Google is apparently getting into the business of radio, but it’s not to spin the discs and play all the hits.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Mountain View search giant has applied for an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow Google to set up an experimental radio service in a two-mile radius around its headquarters.
The Journal article goes on to speculate about what this new radio service might entail and what its impact could be. Theories from using the bandwidth as a wireless network within urban areas to supplementing its wired Google Fiber service that Google’s Access unit is rolling out in Kansas City.
These are all pretty good guesses, and I would not be surprised if one of them hits the mark. But it also seems that these ideas may be thinking a little too small, and if there’s one thing that Google doesn’t do often, it’s think small.
Given the challenges and capital required to wire homes and offices on high-speed fiber, I’m wondering if Google may be thinking along the lines of a nationwide wireless Internet service someday.
It’s big and ambitious, to be sure. But imagine how much revenue Google could make if it bypassed the cellular carrier’s data offerings and got the subscription fees from the end users directly. Heck, knowing Google, it might give away access to the wireless service, in exchange for advertising placement and maybe some personal data from users.
Would such a network be viable? It depends on the experiments Google is running, but it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. Gilder’s Law suggests that bandwidth will grow exponentially, and even developing nations have bypassed the whole wired-phone problem by just installing cheaper cellular service. If Google could eliminate the proverbial last mile of cable or fiber to homes and businesses, it most definitely would get a lot of customers even more tightly connected to their services.
And those are some revenue hits that would just keep on coming.
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