One of the better ideas I found while sifting through reactions to Google’s fiber network plans was from our pal Sam Churchill, who runs the excellent dailywireless blog. Though Sam “buried the lead” a bit, if you scroll down through his comprehensive post you find the suggestion/wish that instead of dropping so much dough on a FTTH network, why couldn’t Google seed a fiber-to-WiMAX play, which could produce a lot more end-user bandwidth for the buck?
While I like Sam’s idea — and it seems to make sense, since it could help seed the field for WiMAX device and application development, which might help Google monetize its $500 million investment in Clearwire — I also think Google should proceed with the fiber-to-the-home plan as well. It’s because I agree with others, like Susan Crawford, who think that Google’s experiment will yield significant results even if it only reaches a small number of end-users.
Like Susan, I believe one of the key factors Google could uncover is the true cost of building and operating an open network — something the big telcos would keep hidden forever, to better obfuscate the reasons behind their pricing policies. I’d like to remind folks that the idea of an “open” local network isn’t new — Internet pioneer Bob Kahn advanced such an idea several years ago, of having an open central office and a public fiber-to-the-home infrastructure that any provider could use — but it was something that no telco or government was willing to try. Kudos to Google for using their market strength in a unique way.