“In February 2010… I cheered. Google had announced its fiber experiment, a plan to wire at least 50,000 homes with fast, bountiful connections,” Susan Crawford writes for Backchannel. “Finally, someone was going to try to unstick the monopolistic, stagnant, second-rate market for high-capacity internet access in the US.”
Now, “news reports all seem to signal that Google is dumping the idea of fiber and moving decisively into wireless access solutions,” Crawford writes. “The bumpersticker from defenders of the status quo is that this means the Google Fiber experiment was a disaster. That’s simply not the case.”
“We do need fiber, everywhere. But we’re talking about basic infrastructure when we talk about fiber. And it is not in any private company’s short-term interest to make that basic fiber infrastructure,” Crawford writes. “Google’s retreat is all about the bottom line… The only business model for fiber that will work to produce the competition, low prices, and world-class data transport we need — certainly in urban areas — is to get local governments involved in overseeing basic, street grid-like ‘dark’ (passive, unlit with electronics) fiber available at a set, wholesale price to a zillion retail providers of access and services. There’s plenty of patient capital sloshing around the US that would be attracted to the steady, reliable returns this kind of investment will return. That investment could be made in the form of private lending or government bonds; the important element is that the resulting basic network be a wholesale facility that any retail actor can use at a reasonable, fair cost.”
“Eventually, after communities have shown the way, the federal government will wise up and ensure any remaining stragglers have great, inexpensive access too,” Crawford writes. “We’ve been through this story before: It’s a recap of what the country did in the early years of electrification.”
Much more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: That last mile is by far the longest.