As most people have probably heard by now, Google is a certified ISP. Google will be providing Kansas City residents with a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-home connection for $70/month. Add TV to that service for an extra $50/month, and you get the most awesome Internet and TV bundle for $120/month. Can’t afford that? Google’s even offering a 5 Mbps connection for free (after a $300 installation fee). All of this makes Google possibly the best ISP in the nation.
But, as some have pointed out, Google isn’t doing so with a huge profit margin. It’s not that Google is losing money on this deal, per-say, but it doesn’t seem that they’re making enough profit to survive on this business alone. Luckily, this isn’t a problem for Google, as they have plenty of other revenue streams. But, it does lead to a question of Google’s true motivation in this move.
So, I offer here my theory: Google is becoming an ISP to put pressure on existing ISPs to upgrade their infrastructure to be able to provide cheaper and faster access. Currently, there isn’t an ISP I’m aware of that can come close to the deal Google’s making in Kansas City for residential customers. If Kansas Citians realize this, they’ll flock to Google, leaving bigger ISPs (Comcast? AT&T?) in the dust.
Of course, as businesses, Comcast and AT&T should do whatever they can to keep their customers. At first, they might just offer to lower prices for customers that threaten to leave, but that really can’t maintain them long-term. They will be forced to do something to remain competitive. Especially if Google starts to move into other areas.
Remaining competitive will mean upgrading networks. That’s just a simple fact. The current residential Internet infrastructure just can’t compete with what Google’s offering. And as long as things remain as they are, the major players have no motivation to put money into upgrading their networks. I believe we’re seeing essentially the same thing with cell phone providers in the US: there isn’t enough competition to force true network infrastructure upgrades.
So, here’s my predictions for the next 10-20 years:
- Major ISPs in Kansas City will slowly start to upgrade their infrastructure and offer lower prices in order to compete with Google’s offering.
- Google will start to move into/threaten to move into other areas.
- Large ISPs will (and this might be very wishful thinking) learn from the Kansas City situation and per-emptively start upgrading their infrastructure across the nation.
After all this happens, it doesn’t really matter if Google moves into other areas, or even continues to offer service. The end result is that they’ve accomplished their goal, and that’s good for all of us. If things proceed how I think they will, the US will see some major improvements in its residential Internet in the coming years.
Today, ICANN announced that they will allow companies to create their own top-level domains (TLDs), for a price, of course. It’s a hefty fee (~$185,000), but every reporter has brought up a couple excellent examples. .bank, for example. I assume that whoever creates these TLDs would also be able to control who gets domains. That would make it possible to ensure that only legitimate banks can have a .bank address. The two other examples I’ve seen repeatedly are .vegas and .canon.
This brings up an interesting opportunity for some new domain uses we’ve never seen before. Imagine, for example, that Canon bought .canon. Sure, they would probably setup store.canon and support.canon, but what if we thought outside the box a bit more? What could we do with an unlimited supply of .canon domains?
Here’s what I imagine: (serial number).canon. What if instead of stumbling though a support site to find support for your product, you could just type in the serial number, followed by .(brand), and be given support information? This is something we’ve never been able to do with traditional TLDs, buy company-oriented TLDs would make this simple.
What about tracking numbers? Google makes it simple to get tracking information from almost any shipping company (just search Google for the tracking number and you’re given a link), but custom TLDs could make this even easier. (tracking number).ups should take me right to the page to figure out where that book I ordered is.
How about finding out what’s around you? It’d be neat to see some company snatch .gps, then allow some standard coordinate format to give a map and perhaps some useful information about what’s nearby. Perhaps .gps could also allow city names.
Maybe you want to know the weather. (City name).weather should be able to take you right to useful information.
Opening up the allowed TLDs allows a world of possibilities. I’ve just listed a couple simple examples here, but I’m sure folks that are much more creative than I could come up with even wilder examples. What would you like to see done with this new world of domain names?
I can’t believe I haven’t written a blog post about Net Neutrality. For those of you who know me personally, you should know that I’m a very strong supporter of Net Neutrality, and believe it’s very important that we make sure the Internet is kept neutral. However, for whatever reason, there are a LOT of misconceptions about Net Neutrality, and what exactly it entails. Since Net Neutrality in reaction to Comcast has once again come up in the news recently, I figured I should write a blog post about the subject.
First, let’s go into some background on the Comcast case. A year or so ago, Comcast decided that its network was being congested by too much P2P traffic; namely, traffic from the BitTorrent P2P protocol. So, they decided that they would clear their network of this congestion by carefully denying BitTorrent connections. They did this by looking into the traffic that BitTorrent was sending over the network, and sending back false information so that connections to peers would fail. The actual details of how this was done is outside the point of this post.
After some outrage from Comcast customers who used BitTorrent, the FCC decided it would step in and tell Comcast to stop or suffer consequences. As soon as this happened, there was some question about whether or not the FCC actually had the power to do this. But, the case went to court and a judge decided that the FCC did have the power to do this, and that Comcast had to stop denying BitTorrent connections in this way. This was a major win for users of the Internet: the court decision basically meant that your ISP can’t deny you from accessing information on the Internet. (continue reading…)
A while ago, I was super excited to finally get a Google Wave invite. Today, I barely ever used the service. I just open it every now and then to see if anything’s happened. Generally, it hasn’t. But… Google Wave had so much potential! It was touted as a killer web application! What happened? Wave had so much momentum, but it seems to have crashed, and gone into one of those experiments that Google toyed around with, but no one really cares about anymore.
First off, let me say that whether Wave succeeds or not makes little difference for Google. Google is a company with enough resources to work on a major product, even if that product is a failure. Google wanted Wave to replace e-mail. This is where the whole “Federated Wave Servers” idea came from. In order for Wave to be the new standard, companies had to be able to run their own Wave servers — Google couldn’t control it. Besides that, Google already controls a good chunk of the e-mail market with GMail, so this was mostly a fun experiment for them.
But, still, it seems like something that should have succeed… or, at least, lasted a good amount of time. But, Wave has quickly lost momentum and died in everyone’s mind. The problem is that Google stopped innovating, and the Wave server never became very popular. I don’t believe there have been any feature additions to Wave since it launched, and I’m not sure there’s any good source other than Google Wave to get a Wave account.
Wave died because Google seems to have abandoned it. They released a product, and they appeared to have stopped working on it. Wave is something Google needed to not only push to corporations, but also continue innovating, and releasing new features, and this never happened. Google was unable to explain to potential customers why they need Wave, and this is where it failed. I think this is slightly unfortunate, but I’m not very surprised. While e-mail is antiquated, it still works, and it’s going to take a lot of push in order to move away from it. Google didn’t seem to have any major corporations backing Wave, which also contributed to the failure.
Who knows… maybe we’ll see Google attempt to revive Wave with some new features. Maybe it will come back for a couple months… But Google will have to work really hard to get the momentum and excitement about Wave going again.
I do, by the way, have 12 Wave invites. I suppose you can comment here or contact me if you want one. That’s a dangerous statement to say on the Internet. Although Wave has died, I have a feeling there are people who never got in on the game, and are still looking for invites, only to find a product that no one uses.