Google’s Christmas present came a little late this year, but they just announced that Google Fiber is coming to the Raleigh/ Durham Triangle area including Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville and Raleigh. Google Fiber offers a connection they say is 100 time faster than any of todays broadband speeds. Services including the ability to control your TV from the Fiber app and record up to 8 shows at once (goodbye productivity). Google Fiber is now laying thousands of miles of their fiber optic cables underground (hello construction). Information on data plans and pricing has not yet been released, but you can sign up online to stay notified.
To be honest before yesterday I had no Idea what Google Fiber was so I’m not the most enthusiastic person out there about the announcement. It sounds cool, I hope my parents get it, but I know it will come down to price and if it’s cheaper than the Time Warner plan they already own.
The announcement interests me though because of our recent in class discussion about net neutrality – the debate over who should internet service providers enable access to all content regardless of source. Google Fiber will increase the number of fiber optic cables and ultimately Google wants to grant access to the internet all over the world through Project Loon – a network of giant balloons that will give internet access to the 2/3 of the world that currently does not have it. This could ultimately give the government an even larger access and ability to “pull the plug” and control who sees what content around the world. This could affect first amendment rights as well as the price internet providers charge. Will internet prices vastly increase with Google Fiber or will it help keep prices down by adding another major competitor? Could “fast lanes” become the new norm creating a premium access to content providers?
I think Google Fiber will have a positive effect globally. Not only will Google help expand Internet access, Google Fiber may also be a positive influence on the net neutrality debate helping to keep the Internet free from regulation. Unfortunately, I could one day see the expansion going against their original intentions, but we’ll just have to hope that does not happen.