In early 2010, Google announced that it was going to pick one city and build a gigabit fiber optic internet network there. Google had no idea that it would spark a pent-up demand for better and reliable internet service across the country. The telcos (AT&T, Verizon) and cable companies (Comcast, Time Warner) were monopolies that couldn’t care less about what was truly needed. (And still don’t.) Over 1,100 municipalities applied to Google’s Fiber for Communities initiative. It took Google by surprise.
Spiral Internet jumped in from the start, walking across the street to City Hall on the day of that announcement to meet with then Nevada City City Manager, Gene Albaugh. We asked if we could apply on behalf of Nevada City. His response was a resounding, “Yes!”
The event, and then video that were produced for that initiative, let us know that Nevada County wanted much faster internet. The promotion that came out of 95959google was outstanding. You can take a short trip back in time to remember what happened as a result of 95959google.com At Spiral, we knew Google would never pick us, but we also knew that we could build our own (and actually as it is turning out) better network.
Last month, Alphabet (Google’s new parent company) announced that it was putting a pause on deploying new fiber optic networks. Susan Crawford (author of “Captive Audience” and one of our heroes) today posted “Google Fiber Was Doomed From the Start” — an article on BackChannel that provides some good insight into why Google Fiber was going to sputter and die. Definitely worth reading.
We know that it is expensive and time-consuming to build new fiber optic networks. It takes insight and fortitude to make it happen and go the course. We also know that the communities that go forward with these builds will prosper in ways that we can, now, only imagine. Large telcos, cable companies and corporations that are accustomed to astronomical profits year after year, cannot see the benefit of investing in long-term sustainable projects. But smaller regionally-based ISPs and municipalities do see that value.
Once Spiral breaks ground later this year — and residences and businesses begin to have access to unlimited symmetrical gigabit internet access — we will see that magic begin to transpire. In hindsight, we’re glad Google didn’t pick Nevada County. And that we did.