Google says it will continue to make investments in networking and further projects like Loon and Titan, but it wants to work with the telcos too
Networking is just as important to Google as it is to communications providers, according to Mike Blanche, the company’s manager for telecoms strategic partnerships, who maintains projects like Loon and Titan complement efforts by telcos, not compete with them.
There has been much debate as to how telcos can generate more revenue in the face of competition from over the top (OTT) services like, but Blanche said Google’s networking efforts were necessary to deliver services like cloud and search.
Speaking at the Huawei Ultra Broadband Forum (UBBF) , he said the two sides had to work together to create the infrastructure that can deliver and create new services and that without each other, there would be no business for either.
“I think we’ve moved beyond the zero sum argument between content providers and access providers,” he told the audience. “Content providers invest a lot in infrastructure too. Google was the largest investor with $20 billion over the past three years – that’s more as a proportion of revenue than telcos.
Google has developed its own networking equipment and has to create new software every two to three years to deal with the growth of the Internet. Most recently, it introduced the Jupiter Superblock and uses software defined networking (SDN) technology so it can roll out updates “every single day” – helping to get data out of its data centres around the world.
“Google search basically needs a copy of the Internet in our data centres to be indexed and searched and returned to users in 1 second. Being able [to do that] is pretty impressive,” Blanche continued. “To link those servers together, we need a network. Networking a data centre is pretty hard. For every MHz of processing power, you’re going to need 1MB of bandwidth.”
Google has invested in terrestrial and submarine cables as part of joint-ventures with telecoms firms and says it needs to work with operators to ensure the end user is getting a good experience as this is a key factor in boosting business and reducing churn.
“This is all about partnership, we can’t build this ourselves,” said Blanche. “How do we know what kind of experience [customers are] getting? We’re working on this and want to work with [telcos].”
But ventures like Project Loon, which aims to provide connectivity to remote parts of the world using hot air balloons, and Project Titan, which involves deploying LTE base stations on unmanned aircraft into emergency areas, appear at first glance to compete with traditional broadband networks.
‘We don’t want to be the world’s ISP’
“We’re looking at ways we can connect people not connected, he explained. “There are still 4 billion people not connected.
“With both Loon and Titan, we’re working with the operators to connect areas not connected today or need better coverage.”
“We can only do this in partnership with operators. Google doesn’t want to be world’s ISP but we do want to bring innovation to solve the world’s problems together.”
Google might have a harder time applying that argument to the US, where it is launching city-wide fibre networks and has plans for an ambitious mobile virtual network operator (MVNO). But overall it is confident its innovations will help telcos – particularly 4K YouTube and cloud.
“We’re developing [these services] to help drive demand for ultra broadband,” concluded Blanche. “This is about infrastructure, innovation and partnership.”