The convergence of the internet and the smart grid  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

The SMH has an article suggesting we might see the convergence of the telecom, ISP and utilities (power) industries over the coming decade (ie. network companies that deliver more than just bits) - Google could be your next ISP.

Instead of relying on third parties to deliver its services, the search giant has spent billions over the past several years building data centres spanning millions of square feet all over the world.

Its equipment is in place at more than 60 public exchanges and, Labovitz said, over the past year the company has deployed its Google Global Cache servers in more than half of all large consumer networks in North America and Europe.

Google has effectively cut out the middleman and now more than half of its traffic is sent directly from its servers to the world's consumer ISPs, Arbor revealed. Next, it could cut out the ISPs as well by offering internet plans itself.

With a wealth of infrastructure already in place, Google recently announced it was taking the next step by building an experimental fibre-to-the-home network in parts of the US servicing initially between 50,000 and 500,000 homes.

Google plans to connect these homes to the internet at blistering speeds of 1Gbps. By comparison, the upcoming National Broadband Network in Australia is predicted to offer about 100Mbps.

"I think Google is gearing up to be potentially quite a formidable competitor to existing telcos and ISPs, given their moves into the infrastructure level," Warren Chaisatien, research director and principal analyst at Australian firm Telsyte, said.

Indeed, at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google chief executive officer Eric Schmidt was heckled by telco representatives in the audience who feared that Google was increasingly competing with them not only on the infrastructure level, but also by selling its mobile phone, the Nexus One, directly to consumers online, and by releasing apps such as Google Voice, which allows users to bypass the networks to make voice calls.

Schmidt stressed the Google was purely experimenting in an effort to see what was required to bring networks up to 1Gbps, which could pave the way for more exciting applications and convince telcos to upgrade their networks.

Analysts aren't buying it. "I think what we are seeing today is that Google is conquering the world, starting from online content but now they are building infrastructure," Chaisatien said.

Chaisatien believes that, in the next five to 10 years, the ISP, telecoms and utilities industries will merge to form "smart grids". He said this was "one of the key arenas that Google intends to play very strongly in".

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