For a while now, there have been sources stating Google have been exploring the option of building their own connectivity network in the UK; similar to what they have built for Google Fiber in Kansas City, Austin and Provo in the US. The Google Fiber infrastructure was built to underpin HD television, it also allows enough bandwidth and scale to support 4K; a video technology that is four times as sharp as HD.
Understandably, there is sense in building a new network in the UK. The project would create competition and add pressure on some of the other carriers who perhaps have no current plans to upgrade their own infrastructure. It was understood that Google have had talks with the likes of CityFibre as a potential partner to explore building an ‘up to 1Gb/s’ infrastructure across Britain. Rumours floated that CityFibre had gotten cold feet as they were conscious that discussions or agreements with Google Fiber would jeopardize their existing relationship with UK carriers such as Sky and TalkTalk.
However, further sources have declined the recent gossip claiming there are no serious discussions for Google to build a fibre network in the UK, although it is now clear that there is space in the market for someone to stir things up. The requirement and need for the product in the US came to because Google required to deliver video technology and needed the infrastructure to underpin it. I think one of the difficulties anyone building a new network would face is actually building the infrastructure, laying the ducting and setting new routes with fresh technologies. This would be a significant construction project on its own and would require heavy investment which would be at risk of not having momentous returns.
There are ways in which Google can become their own ISP without having to make considerable investments in infrastructure, or causing too much of a stir between existing relationships in the industry. Using an open access network like the Service Exchange Platform would mean that companies like Google, Apple or Netflix who rely on connectivity to underpin key parts of their product portfolio, can easily integrate into existing infrastructure, have improved options and control on how the infrastructure for their service is used. The likes of Gigaclear and IFNL are already integrated into the Service Exchange Platform and therefore any companies using it have automatic access to this infrastructure as well as any new networks that will come on-board in the future. With the Internet becoming a need, rather than a want, and playing a part in nearly every new technology, growing organisations will naturally become ISP’s themselves. They won’t have an option not to, they will have to adapt or get left behind. One API makes integration from a development perspective a lot easier, especially for a large business like Google.
Perhaps the Google Fiber infrastructure isn’t the answer in the UK, but why can’t Google Fiber be a product in the UK? It makes sense for Google to utilise all the excellent work already taking place in the country to deploy gigabit fibre services to customer premises. By their very involvement we could see more money pumped into the existing projects increasing coverage. Who will be next to enter this space?