Google's bid for the last mile

Google, Skype and VC's invest $21.7m to create planet-wide wi-fi network--leading bloggers give PR support
Written by Tom Foremski, Contributor

Google, Skype plus VCs have invested $21.7m in FON startup as they try to get around Telcos' grip on the last-mile.

Here is the ZDNet story, and more here plus the company statement: "Battle for last mile heats up..."

This shows that Google is not building a private Internet anymore than any company that links itself to the Internet. We all share the burdens and the traffic of the Internet to one degree or another.  Recent reports in The Times Online are nothing new, the article just pulls together a bunch of stuff that people have been speculating about such as a Google PC, etc.

Google might encourage, or produce a reference hardware system, but there is no need for it to go into the client hardware part of the industry. The margins are too slim in hardware and too delicious in search.

Similarly,  with Google producing or licensing content; apart for one or two deals to get the ball rolling--that's not its business and it has no particular expertise. Its expertise is figuring out what is where and who wants it when. And what happens next...

Yes, Google is building a high-speed energy-efficient internet infrastructure, but that is to make itself more efficient. It is not as a way to close-off other Internet users.

What Google does want is a trusted network, and that is why it has become a dotcom registrar. And that is why it is interested in AOL and its integrated IM plus communications platform.

Google faces two large problems: click fraud and last-mile.

If it knows who its users and advertisers are, it can follow each packet from start to finish and know if it is a trusted connection or a suspicious connection.

The effects of click fraud are already showing up in its Q4 numbers. The shift away from revenues coming from its partner AdSense sites is the most visible effect.

Partner sites are vulnerable to people clicking on AdSense ads just to make money and this means a low conversation rate for advertisers. Already, advertisers on Google are already ignoring clicks from overseas locations.

But a lot of the IP traffic can be hidden from origin. That's why more advertising is moving towards Google's own sites, because Google Search pages offer the best ad conversions and are less vulnerable to click fraud.

On a search page, Google knows exactly what you want at that particular moment in time--because you tell it. You put it in the search box!

Eric Schmidt, GOOG's CEO, said last year on the Charlie Rose TV show that GOOG's mission is to return to you exactly the site you were looking for. Now that should mean there is less need for advertising, because Google will find exactly the thing that you were looking for, the product, the service, whatever.

What's the point of advertising your site if GOOG has the technology to direct exactly those users that are looking for exactly your site! Now that's a disruptive model :-)

GOOG's biggest problem is the last mile. If GOOG packets can only get into the home by having to go through an SBC,  or a Comcast cable or any other gateway Telco--wireless or wired--then it is vulnerable.

I'm not saying those gateways would block GOOG, but they would have Quality of Service agreements with certain companies, and QoS means you can speed up some packets while others have to jostle with the great mass of other data packets, which might not provide a compelling user experience.

GOOG needs a free and clear path into the home. Maybe WiMax can do it, but it's not yet ready for play.

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