Monday, October 24, 2011

Google Fiber coming to Europe

Google is considering building fiber in a European country, expanding its infrastructure assets base. This would be a follow-up to the Google Fiber project in the Kansas Cities in Kansas and Missouri and at Stanford University.

It's a bit too early to start guessing where Google Fiber might land.

The first questions would be:

  • Are we talking FTTH here, or perhaps a middle mile strategy?
  • Will it be nationwide, regional, on a city-by-city basis (like Kansas) or focusing on university campuses (like Stanford, or the Gig.U project)?
  • Will it focus on rural areas, like Fujitsu in the UK?
  • Could it be done through a takeover of an existing challenger, or even a cable company (and then overbuild with fiber, like CIF does in the Netherlands - that takes out the strongest competitor with one stroke).
  • Will Google do just the financing, or act as an ISP as well? Will it be an open network?
  • Point-to-point (Active Ethernet) of point-to-multipoint (PON)?
  • Will it be a gigabit network?
Factors to consider when choosing a country include:
  • Regulation.
  • Size of the country.
  • Current plans of the local telco incumbent. Many of them have such plans, but mostly very limited.
  • Current plans of any challengers. Most, if any, are still small.
  • Coverage of cable (HFC) networks.
  • Current broadband and Internet penetration rates.
  • GDP growth rates, living standards.
  • Geographical factors: is aerial build allowed, what is the state of the sewer system, can the pavements easily be opened up, etc?
  • Are long-haul networks in place to connect to?
  • Will the government welcome Google and reduce frictions involved in getting permits etc.? Or does the government have strong ties with the incumbent?
  • Are cooperative local partners available, such as a whole host of them in Kansas (University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City Power & Light, Kansas City Area Development Council, KCnext, Kauffman Foundation, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City (Mo), Kansas City Missouri School District, Brush Creek Partners, The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, The Black Economic Union, Mid-America Regional Council).

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