Google Broadband: Will They Change the World Again?

Published on March 31st, 2011 | by

If Google indeed wants to “do no evil” perhaps it should stick to what it does best, grow and improve it’s search and more generally increase access to information on the internet. Obviously a statement like that is not exactly a stretch as companies that focus on their core competencies are often ones that succeed in the long run (although not always). The reason I mention this is two-fold. One, many people think that a company that has grown so large must be at least a little evil-see pending anti trust litigation in the EU and two because google.org has been such a stunning failure. But, over the next year or two, Google will be developing a broadband capability enabling internet speed, the likes of which we have never seen.

Today, the New York Times announced that Kansas City, of all places (not knocking it, just seems somewhat arbitrary) will be the first out of 1,100 cities that applied to receive this new broadband network. The system is supposed to provide speeds of over a 100 times that of what we receive via broadband in our homes today (good riddance to Comcast, RCN, Time Warner and all the other terrible cable companies I’ve had to deal with over the past 8-10 years). Now that speed may not make a huge difference for logging on to the internet and checking your email or Facebook, but it has major implications in other areas of internet use that have been inhibited by current speeds.

And what does this have to do with responsible business? Well, the subject of the last two articles I have written have dealt with how web/mobile platforms have in and of themselves become conduits for social good, and this case is much the same. The article mentions that not only will your Netflix stream load faster and your movie box will be full to bursting but so too will it “allow rural health clinics to send 3-D medical images over the Internet and let students collaborate with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture”. I’m not sure how you feel about this, but as far as I’m concerned this is extremely important stuff.

Of course this will not be happening overnight. After all we haven’t even seen it in action in our first US city yet, but I think you can see where this is going. I must say, what I really respect about Google is that even though they are such a big company, with huge reach and a ton of money, they haven’t gotten away from what made them so successful in the first place and that is simply put, the continued drive to innovate. Most companies of this size tend to be reactive, conservative and behind the curve, but Google works almost in the opposite manner, putting their sizable wealth behind a ton of new companies and ideas in attempt to see what sticks (not recklessly, but they are clearly not risk averse). There have been some serious failures and some great payoffs and there will continue to be. Should Google broadband take off, it would be an interesting counterpoint to the highly regulated, slowly evolving broadband world in which we currently live.

Image Credit by keso via Flickr under a CC license


About the Author

Jonathan has worked in both journalism and various facets of small business development over the past eight years. Most recently, he graduated from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (graduate school of Middlebury College) in 2010 with an MBA and an MA in International Development Policy. His interests include SME development and its role in economic growth, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as how CSR/Sustainability measures impact both business operations and the communities in which businesses operate. While at MIIS he worked as a summer fellow involved in small business consulting in Accra, Ghana and was an active member of the MIIS Net Impact chapter. As a life long traveler, Jonathan has been fortunate to have lived in, worked in or visited over 20 countries on 5 continents and he truly hopes that he will be able to continue this trend.
  • CBuck

    Definitely some potential there; I’m pretty sure laundering earnings all over Europe and Bermuda in order to evade U.S. taxes to the tune of billions per year isn’t the most socially responsible thing to do though… maybe Obama should allow them to bring those profits back state-side with minimal penalties under the stipulation that the money be used to further the social benefits of these emerging technologies or something. I dunno, just sayin’…

  • Jonathan Banco

    Clearly there are certain things that are common amongst all MNCs. But a 35% corporate tax rate (one of the highest in the world) and multiple loopholes available do not make for effective policy. Agree though that the tax holiday idea along with proper appropriation might be interesting option although I’m not sure it would be possible/popular/legal etc