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Google’s buying of fiber optic cable

General | November 18, 2005 | 1 min read

Om Malik reported in Business 2.0 around 2 months back that Google is on a buying spree of fiber optic cable & he speculated it was for Google to build a national broadband network (he dubbed it the GoogleNet) which would provide free WiFi to USA & then to the world.

Now Robert X Cringley has a different viewpoint saying that Google will use the fiber optic cable itself (for connecting its growing network of datacenters to make a “giant processing and storage grid”).

The same follows for the rumor that Google, as a dark fiber buyer, will turn itself into some kind of super ISP. Won’t happen. And WHY it won’t happen is because ISPs are lousy businesses and building one as anything more than an experiment (as they are doing in San Francisco with wireless) would only hurt Google’s earnings.

So why buy-up all that fiber, then?

The probable answer lies in one of Google’s underground parking garages in Mountain View. There, in a secret area off-limits even to regular GoogleFolk, is a shipping container. But it isn’t just any shipping container. This shipping container is a prototype data center. Google hired a pair of very bright industrial designers to figure out how to cram the greatest number of CPUs, the most storage, memory and power support into a 20- or 40-foot box. We’re talking about 5000 Opteron processors and 3.5 petabytes of disk storage that can be dropped-off overnight by a tractor-trailer rig. The idea is to plant one of these puppies anywhere Google owns access to fiber, basically turning the entire Internet into a giant processing and storage grid.

Which do you think is the case? Or, is it for both? Any other ideas of what Google would do with all that fiber?

-Arvind