Surprise, Google's fiber announcement didn't make everyone happy

29 January 2015 by Steve Blum
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Maybe if they threw in some free beer?

Tuesday’s formal announcement that Google Fiber is heading for 18 cities in four southeastern U.S. metro areas is getting a generally warm and happy reception. But not universally. Grumbles are coming in two flavors: the who in the world needs all this sort – relatively rare so far – and the why not me variety, which is more common.

It has to be frustrating to want fiber to the home service and live in the next city over from one of the blessed. Charlotte, North Carolina is getting Google Fiber, but that’s as far as it goes, which means disappointment for those nearby, according to the Charlotte Observer

“I would love to see some real competition,” said Mint Hill resident Dan Van Atta. “I wish they would bring it to all of Mecklenburg County”…

Asked about expansion outside the city limits on Tuesday, Google Fiber expansion director Jill Szuchmacher said: “Right now we’re focused on the city of Charlotte.”

Down the road, in the Raleigh-Durham metro, an op-ed piece by an “IT worker…and aspiring law student” in the News-Observer says it’s a raw deal for everyone…

High-speed Internet doesn’t really improve the speed or, more importantly, the quality of how most of us do business –most of us don’t work for Netflix or engage in high-speed financial speculation. It also doesn’t make children learn faster or better – I somehow doubt that more HD streaming video will solve our education problems…The usefulness of computers, for the most part, has little enough to do with how fast they are. No one wants delivery vans and school buses that go 20,000 mph…

The upshot of the Google deal is that an enormously valuable piece of public infrastructure, which ought to be owned in common by the public, is handed over lock, stock and barrel to a private company based in California. This same company was deeply involved in the illegal, secret surveillance of all our Internet usage by the NSA.

I think that’s nonsense, but it’s a common enough way of looking at it, even here in California. The whole piece is worth reading: meeting, if not satisfying, those objections is a necessary part of getting community broadband systems built.