Abroad, Facebook is developing drones to provide wireless Internet access to remote corners of the globe. In the U.S., Google Fiber is seeking to change the game by providing faster at-home Internet access.
Alphabets, Google’s umbrella company, has spent the last six years seeking to bring faster Internet speeds to houses and businesses. Google Fiber aims to bring more houses online and -– presumably – using their search engine.
Originally, the Google Fiber sought to expand through more traditional fiber optic networks. However, it ran into the same obstacles as other providers, many of which went under in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. The cost to bury wires in the ground or add them to telephone poles is expensive and time-consuming. The project accounted for the majority of Google’s non-search expenditures, totaling $280 million last quarter.
Google Fiber is now changing its tack. The division recently asked the FCC for permission to experiment with high-frequency airwaves. Verizon and AT&T are also players in the market. Each is seeking a way to provide a faster Internet connection that doesn’t involve stringing wires to each and every building. The goal is to provide Internet as fast as broadband, but wirelessly.
The technology is not yet perfected. High-frequency airwaves don’t travel very far, and don’t penetrate deep into buildings. However, with major players like Google on board, some predict the option will be available in as soon as five years.
Now that it has changed directions, Google Fiber is asking cities to build their own infrastructure as a way to cut costs. It has also pulled out of several of the cities it started projects in, including San Jose, CA and Portland, OR.
Wireless Internet connections are a logical next step, especially as more consumers seek their Internet access on smartphones. Google is now focusing on setting up networks in about a dozen U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. In the meantime, AT&T plans to start testing in Austin, TX. Verizon is setting up testing near its facilities in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Texas. According to AT&T, “wireless fiber” users can expect speeds of up to 50 to 100 times faster than a 4G LTE network.
The Change in the Industry
The change is turning more wireless carriers into potential at-home Internet providers and vice versa. Many are optimistic that this will increase competition. In turn, consumers can expect better service and cheaper prices, even as speed increases.
For job seekers, the wireless fiber movement is opening up new jobs for network engineers, software engineers, plant managers, project managers and more. As the program grows to more cities, opportunities continue to open up. Aside from jobs at major service providers, the wireless fiber field is beginning to grow as well, creating jobs at other companies across the board.
New Tech Jobs from Google Fiber and “Wireless Fiber” Providers