Friday, May 23, 2014

Silicon Valley says "Meh" to Google Fiber

My friend Stephen Blum at Tellus Venture Associates recently posted about Silicon Valley's response to Google Fiber's "Fiber Ready Checklist".  Only five cities in the region (San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Palo Alto, and of course Google's home port Mountain View)  responded.  Of these, only Palo Alto seems to be serious about their response.  One city said it wants Google to fund hiring the staff needed to review the permits.  How about another idea: Streamline the permitting process.  Crazy talk, I know.

Silicon Valley generates so much technical greatness, yet for some reason it can't implement greatness for itself. I sat at a red light recently for almost three minutes, wasting gas, generating pollution, staring at an empty intersection. Meanwhile cities and towns outside Silicon Valley have interlinked traffic lights with adaptive prediction systems that allows timing to change as needed based on roadway, radar, optical, and other sensors. The Valley was one of the last places to get rid of A/B cable, and even in 2001 it lagged behind other metro areas in DSL deployment.  We know how to make great technology, but we don't know how (or don't have the political will) to tame runaway government bureaucracy which impedes deployment of that technology.   The fact that Google Fiber will provide residents of selected cities with free basic (5 Mbps) service - a huge economic opportunity for those cities - seems to not matter.  I suspect that we're once again rushing towards mediocrity, and that we're likely to get left behind while Google deploys fiber in cities like San Antonio.

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