A GoogleNet baby step?

Starting with broadband guru Om Malik’s speculation that Google is building out a nationwide internet backbone network (with WiMax to deliver fast broadband over the notoriously difficult-to-deploy last mile) he’s added information today that makes it appear they’re pretty serious and have taken their first public baby step.

Malik referred to this FAQ (at wifi.google.com with an actual subdomain!) and a spot to download virtual private network (VPN) software (Windows only, BTW).  At this time, Google wifi is only in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Good thing they’re offering VPN software since I’ve been very concerned for some time about being “naked” when surfing in a wifi hotspot like a coffee shop (email and FTP passwords go in the clear for example). But why would Google build a secure, VPN infrastructure only for San Francisco? The answer is they wouldn’t.

There’s been a lot of buzz about what Google is up to, especially since they’ve been rumored to be on a buying binge snagging dark fiber. Lending credence to this point was yesterday’s IP Media Monitor article, “Google Reviewing Bids for National Optical Switching Network: Google is reviewing bids it solicited from tech vendors to build a national optical DWDM network capable of pushing massive amounts of voice, video and data very close to end users. Even more interesting is that the purported cost of this dynamic national fiber fabric is under $100 million (not including dark fiber) and can be launched within a matter of months. But the last-mile is, as always, the problem.” WiMax could take care of that problem.

I’ll go back to the huge incentive for Google to monetize location awareness (which I wrote about in this post). Specifically stated was, “The next big wave is location awareness. Imagine that location awareness takes off since there is ubiquitous mobile 3rd generation (3G) data connections along with citywide WiMax for those times you use your laptop at a coffee shop, in a park, at a client’s office or wherever you happen to be located. This will accelerate and facilitate the ability to deliver content easily and within the context of the person and where they are at that moment in an actual physical location. Delivery of ads and social networking web services will explode.

Here’s another huge incentive: What if Google could analyze a large percentage of ALL traffic flow over the internet via GoogleNet? With this kind of data capture and the huge body of knowledge that could be gathered by Google, the reports and analytical services they could provide to advertisers, product developers, researchers, and any seeker of knowledge would be unprecedented and arguably more valuable than most other types of quantitative data ever captured.

Of course, building something like this on such a massive scale (and the obvious regulatory hurdles and major telecom/cable lobbying against it that would result) would necessitate hiring someone that could lead the most highly visible initiative Google has ever undertaken. Let’s see…maybe hire the “father of the internet” Vint Cerf to lead this for Google?  Ahhh…already done.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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