As a member of one of the Baltimore organizations supporting the cause to make Baltimore one of the Google Fiber test cities, I feel it's apropos to write a quick post about what Google Fiber is and what it could mean for the Baltimore web community.
I'll let James Kelly from the Google team do the honors of explaining what it is…
If you didn't watch the video, here's a quick rundown (again from someone at Google):
"Google is planning to launch an experiment that we hope will…deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections."
So what would Baltimore be like with faster Internet?
Well, we know the Internet isn't exactly localized, so the content available to us from outside of Baltimore would probably be the same. But, the speed at which we obtain content would be up to 100 times faster. So, why is this a great opportunity for the creative web community? Here are just a few reasons:
1) A Baltimore web developer's R&D playground:
This would be an amazing opportunity for the Baltimore tech community to push web applications to the next level. Faster Internet connections means more robust applications managing more information faster. Again, the web is not localized so everything we create in Baltimore won't be as easily accessible elsewhere. But, this opportunity would allow our developer community to get a head-start on building "bandwidth intensive" online applications. Whether sharing bigger documents faster, mining data, or just streaming video over a network, could Baltimore create the next big application in telecommunications?
2) More experiential display ads:
If any aspect of the web could benefit from a better connected Baltimore, localized display advertising has the most potential. Think about it. Most display ad publishers/networks limit the size and level of interactivity of online advertising in fear of slowing down the performance of their sites. Not with Google Fiber. With higher-quality video, images, Flash, and dynamic content streaming seamlessly into web content, ads could reach great new heights of creativity, and as a result garner more attention for Baltimore businesses. I know Google is already making major overhauls in the way we consume and create targeted display advertising, so could Baltimore be the testing ground for more advanced behavior-based advertising? As a direct result of this, publishers could charge more for ad space due to the potential creative opportunities within prime real estate.
3) Business ventures and a boom in technology:
If Google builds it, they will come. Once an infrastructure is set in place, businesses and investors would be keeping a close eye on Baltimore. The local economy could grow from recognition of being a test city. Greater speeds mean more efficiencies for businesses who rely on faster connectivity. Creative web/tech shops could presumably generate greater awareness for our capabilities in this region. Could Baltimore become the next Silicon Valley?
These are just a few quick thoughts on how Baltimore-based web teams could leverage the use of Google Fiber. Outside of the creative web community there are far more pressing and quantitative reasons that Google should consider Baltimore as a test city. I'm grateful that our state and local governments are joining forces with the tech community to generate more of a legitimate buzz to answer Google's RFI. Fingers crossed.