It was only after reading an interesting article on Wired magazine's website that I realized exactly what Google may or may not be aiming for with its new high speed broadband program. While my Google appreciation does not permit me to think of Google as evil or monopolist, over the years their market has expanded beyond their initial search engine, and a pattern of vertical integration is beginning to show. They took over search, they are taking over the mobile software that provides the search, and soon they might take over the Internet connection that supplies the search. This is not dissimilar to that of United States Steel in the twenties, where Andrew Carnegie controlled the entire process from mining to retail. And just look where that got them.
According to the article, even though Google gets enough traffic to be the world's third largest ISP, it is unlikely they will become a full-time service provider. This is a smart move on Google's part, as they are already facing antitrust lawsuits in the EU, however unfounded they may be, and adding on to that might not be the best idea. However, it almost seems as Google should be your ISP. Their servers farms are so voluminous they could probably host the entire nation if they really wanted to. For those who remember, as it was not that long ago, they already have their own DNS servers, which are active attempts to get users to use Google's own name servers. Whether Google is really faster than your ISP's DNS is up for debate, and dependent on your ISP. And now with the new Google Fiber program, who knows what is coming next. Google might as well just put up its own fiber lines next to Verizon FiOS.
Despite the possible monopoly resulting from this solution, there are a number of advantages of having Google as your ISP. First and foremost, Google's goal is to implement high speed broadband without waiting for the FCC to do whatever it is they plan on doing, which may or may not even reach your home. With an Internet connection a million times faster than your standard link, who can argue it will be better for the consumer? And I doubt Google would charge much as they would only need to cover the costs; their main revenue source is still advertising, and trying to cheat users out of anything else would be too high on the evil scale, so to say. Furthermore, with Google as an ISP, it means the popular providers have new competition to keep them on their feet. We cannot say for sure Google would take over the market as an ISP. If they did we would get faster Internet, but if they did not it would startle the markets and hopefully drive prices down regardless of who your current provider is.
Fast broadband is on the way. I blog using DSL from Verizon, and the connection as well as the customer service is not exactly amazing. With cheaper, faster, and Google-branded Internet (the latter would really excite me), it would not seem like a bad idea to have Google as my ISP. However, there will always be the numerous individuals out there who are skeptical about Google's monopoly, and their concern is well-founded. We will just have to make our own judgments and risk assessments for now, and hope for the best.