Om Malik writes today that the net neutrality fight is lost, and Google is just trying to drag it out by threatening to file an anti-trust action. (The man pictured is Sen. John Sherman, after whom our first anti-trust law is named.)
He’s wrong on two counts. First, the fight isn’t lost, because the bill was only approved by a committee and Democrats have decided to fight this one, hard, on the floor. They have the weapons to keep a bill from passing the Senate through the November election.
Second, anti-trust cases from private parties can be vital tools. (Ironically one of the more successful was filed by Caldera, the predecessor company to SCO, against Microsoft, concerning DR-DOS.) Even before the case is won, it can tie up corporate actions for years.
But this is not what I mean by Google "fighting" against the duopolists seeking blackmail against them.
Don Dodge of Microsoft writes in his blog that Google purchased its dark fiber to mirror its index, and the Web, all over the world. If this is true it means Google has a globe-girdling network.
I wrote over a year ago that, if Google has fiber in major U.S. cities (as I assume it does) then it really doesn’t need the Bell companies — not in terms of its own needs anyway.
But what it may need now is to break the Bell stranglehold on the last mile. And its dark fiber is the leverage that can do it.
Thanks to Moores Law of Fiber, also known as DWDM, or Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing. What we’re talking about is colors. Instead of sending what looks like white light through a fiber, split the fiber into all the colors you can imagine and send each one separately. Each will have a separate wavelength, which can be detected by diodes. As the diodes improve (with Moore’s Law) so does the fiber’s capacity. Add in optical switching, and it means that any network with a fiber trunk can, with a big of finagling, handle all the traffic between those two points, thanks to the power of the rainbow.
Between its own fiber and 802.11 mesh technology, Google has the capacity (with enough business partners) of solving the last-mile problem, delivering new wireless capacity to every household that can grow with the 802.11 standards. It should then be lobbying to get more unlicensed bandwidth in order to increase those speeds, but (and here’s the good part) it really doesn’t have to risk a lot of cash.
Here’s how you do it:
- Register a few millions shares out of petty cash, and toss them into a joint-venture.
- Bring in Level 3 to run the fiber end of the venture, so between the two networks there’s plenty of capacity.
- Bring in Intel as a third investor, delivering the wireless technology in volume.
- Seek business partners in every city, village and town, who will work with its joint-venture on creating connectivity to all.
No, it won’t make a lot of profit. That’s why you want to spin this off. All the joint-venture needs to do is break even, and with equipment partners, technology partners, and local partners working together, it can be done. (Clearwire wants to compete? Great, the more the merrier.)
Even the threat of this will force the Bells and Cable operators to start releasing more bits at lower prices, and on better terms, in order to hold the customers they’ve got.
If Google is really going to fight, and not posture, this is the way to do it.