Google has searched for ways to provide faster Internet service and, in the process, it is changing how next-generation broadband is rolled out.
Telecom and cable companies generally have been required to blanket entire cities, offering connections to every home. By contrast, Google is building high-speed services as it finds demand, laying new fiber neighborhood by neighborhood, called ‘fiberhoods’.
Frontier Communications chief executive Maggie Wilderotter suggests that customers don’t need a gig as Google Fiber prepares to launch its services in the Portland area, perhaps as soon as next year.
Google promises “gigabit” speeds for residential users – 1,000 megabits per second, roughly 20 times a typical broadband Internet connection today. Frontier, who serves Portland’s suburbs since acquiring Verizon’s FiOS service four years ago, offers 15 mbps for $30 a month in the area. Ms. Wilderotter says that, ‘..for most people, 10 to 12 megabits per second will be perfectly adequate for at least the next couple years.’
Holly Springs, a town of about 25,000 in the Triangle region of North Carolina, has built its own network to connect community anchor institutions and has an interest in using it to spur economic development and other community benefits but a 2011 law pushed by Time Warner Cable makes some of that more difficult.
“I do think that if there were real competition in most of the country, then network neutrality may not be that important,” [Christopher] Mitchell [director of Community Broadband Networks at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance] says.
Lawmakers on the Hill, including some members with jurisdiction over telecommunications policy, like what they’re hearing from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on municipal broadband.