Google's fiber initiative: it's fast, but is it enough?

New America Foundation:

Sascha D. Meinrath, director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative, made the following statement after Google's fiber-to-the-home network prototype announcement today.

"Google's fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network sets a new standard for speed and transparency," explained Meinrath. "The network should have open, symmetrical architecture that facilitates high-speed communication for users within the network, including schools, hospitals and the local government and data collection to spur Internet research. The benefits of 1 gigabit-per-second connectivity are not maximized simply by getting data in and out of the community, but by creating vibrant digital commons that supports applications, resources, and communication within the local network."

The vast majority of broadband deployments have built-in bottlenecks that prevent users within a local geographic area from communicating quickly and efficiently with one another. Instead, providers have deployed networks that are solely focused on delivering Internet content to users. The Google FTTH project provides an opportunity to reverse this remarkably limiting trend and create a true high-speed local communications infrastructure that serves as platform for tele-health, education, government services, local media, and community organizing and empowerment.

This network could also serve as a valuable resource for scientific researchers and policy makers alike through collecting performance and traffic data and providing an open platform to Internet researchers. Since NSFNET was privatized, we have experienced a steady diminution of useful information from the public domain on fundamental performance statistics. As access to raw data on Internet traffic, topology, routing, and security have diminished, Internet researchers have struggled to conduct mission critical and reproducible experiments.

"The scope of this project further demonstrates that the funding provided by the broadband stimulus is a drop in the bucket of what is needed to revitalize the lagging broadband landscape throughout the United States," Meinrath added. "In 2009, we saw an unprecedented effort to intervene in broadband communities. The Recovery Act committed $7.2 billion in broadband investment defining high-speed access at most 5 mbps, while Australia is investing $31 billion in an 100 megabit per second effort. When you break it down per capita, Australia is outspending the U.S. 60 to 1. Google is sending a shot across the bow - we need to set far higher standards here in the United States. Our national broadband plan must take this into account and our leadership needs to stop shying away from the challenge."

article originally published at New America Foundation.

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