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Summary:

Google announced its plan to build a superfast, fiber-to-the-home network in a lucky town last February and it would name the town in 2010. But last December it named a new person to lead the effort and said it needed more time. Where is the network?

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UPDATED. It has been almost 14 months since Google announced its plans to wire up an entire community with a fiber-to-the-home network that would be capable of gigabit speeds. More than 600 communities applied for the honor, but Google then changed its plans. It was going to make an announcement before the end of 2010, but Google delayed the news. Now, it’s three months later, and there’s nary a fiber to be seen.

To be fair, when Google delayed the news of which town it had selected, it did announce Milo Medin would take over the project, and the lucky town would be announced in 2011. Technically, Google and Medin have nine more months to name a winner, and Medin’s appointment in December as the head of the effort may have restarted the clock on plans. But Medin has somewhat of a shaky track record. He was the chairman of the California Broadband Task Force and the chairman and CTO of M2Z Networks, which GigaOM readers may recall as the failed effort to bring free, slow broadband to the masses. He was also the co-founder and CTO of the company that became Excite@home, which wasn’t exactly a huge success either.

I’ve asked Google for access to Medin as well as for comment on what the status of its fiber network is, but the company hasn’t responded. I’m left wondering if instead of wiring up a municipality, Google may have used its “win a fiber network” contest as a threat to bring ISPs around to its way of thinking on issues such as network neutrality and tiered broadband.

Google has a history of such threats, such as when it bid in the last wireless auction for spectrum that companies could use to deploy mobile broadband. It didn’t win, but it bid up the price and forced the FCC to write rules that would require certain winners to allow non-carrier devices on the network, a huge concession. It also pushed hard for white spaces, otherwise known as Wi-Fi on steroids, as a means to boost broadband access for mobile devices, but now that the FCC implemented rules to enable white spaces broadband, Google has been uncharacteristically quiet (as have all the other champions of the issue).

Indeed, such plays have helped Google fight back against telecommunications firms that want to charge Google for access to their pipes and control its own destiny. All that said, however, I do hope that its fiber initiative becomes a reality — and soon.

Update: Milo Medin’s name was incorrectly listed as Milo Medlin in the original post.

  1. “Medin,” no l’s.

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  2. I bet they are waiting for INFN’s 100g gear- due in 2012.

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  3. Milo was a pioneer in the cable modem development. His work with @Home helped develop the cable modem industry, and even in the early days had a vision for the more advanced cable modem networks we have today. It is not fiber to the home, but I appreciate what he brought to Broadband as a pioneer, rather than focusing on efforts that failed…without pioneers who attempt difficult challenges we would still have the old Ma Bell monopoly.

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  4. Sure hope they weren’t just wasting a whole lot of peoples time for their own little game.

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  5. No they have not forgot about it. I have a interview for a Lab Technician with Google for Fiber to the Home project about a month ago. I think they are hiring talent needed for this as it will need extra bodies to do so. When I had the interview I was working for Microsoft but after 2 years I went to a new place. I have contacts at Google that are head working on this project so nobody worry its in the works.

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    1. So…they are keeping it a secret…but they spiled the beans to a Microsoft employee? Yeah…right.

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  6. Who cares if it becomes a reality or not. Like everything else Google does, even if they DO implement it to that out city, it will neer expand. If you believed their hype 5 years ago, over half the country would have free Google WiFi

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    1. No bean spilling if they are hiring for jobs and the specifically advertise it as Fiber to the home project and thats what they tell you. BTW I no longer work for Microsoft that was my decision to leave. Me spilling the beans would be like me signing an NDA to have an interview and not being able to disclose anything and talking about it. Check the job postings on Googles site they are hiring for Fiber to the home network engineers and lab techs.

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      1. No sense arguing with idiots… For them if it doesn’t happen in their time, then it won’t happen, or the person writing this post, if they don’t get the access they want, when they want it, then it’s vapor.

        These people fail to realize that no matter how important they think they are and what access they are entitled to, Google operates on their own time frame.

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      2. No sense arguing with idiots… For them if it doesn’t happen in their time, then it won’t happen, or the person writing this post, if they don’t get the access they want, when they want it, then it’s vapor.

        These people fail to realize that no matter how important they think they are and what access they are entitled to, Google operates on their own time frame.

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  7. You sir, leaving Microsoft and seeking employment at *shudders* do-no-evil Google was a smart move. If you get on the team, perhaps pick a community in the Charleston area. Yes, I applied.

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    1. Final word on this for me. Google scouted me on linked in I never applied for the job. I had an interview without every apply for a job. They offered me the interview and I figure what the heck. Nothing to loose for me.

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  8. Interesting article, an a rational hypothesis given history, however I believe 100% that Google will follow through with the 5 communities. Its not a matter of if, only when.

    I just wish they would hurry up as there are a bunch of us looking to see which communities get their Go Big With a Gig Fiber To The Home (FTTH) network. We want to move!

    Must haves:
    ~ Synchronous FTTH (especially upstream bandwidth)
    ~ Net Neutrality
    ~ No Throttling of bandwidth below what customer is paying for. (i.e if you pay for 10Mb/10Mb you get 10Mb both up and down 99% of the time) Only FTTH makes this possible, all other technologies is inferior.
    ~ No Censorship
    ~ No IP monitoring and surveillance without a court order signed by a judge identifying the accuser of the alleged wrong doing. Thus we honest people can confront our accuser.

    Nice to haves:
    ~ ability to run servers (File, Mail and Cloud) on residential Internet Plans. This encourages innovation by small businesses and helps them get started on a shoe string, get profitable and move to a data center as their services grow.
    ~ Quality of Service not artificially degraded by any intermediary between our homes and the backbone (all continents) of the Internet.

    By our definition Synchronous implies and includes NO THROTTLING or restricting of our residential bandwidth in either direction … upstream or downstream. Upstream is the most important as this is why video and content pause, skip, stall and does not play back correctly. Also will allow for true High Definition (minimum 1024p…not compressed to something less desirable).

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  9. Announced today that KCK is getting it.

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  10. And just days later… SLAM, it drops, so much for just being a threat…. just goes to show, maybe less speculating would be good…

    Just because they don’t give YOU access when YOU want it doesn’t mean they’re bluffing…

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