Yesterday I was told that a friend of ours, who has a one-person counselling business in the nearby city of the Gold Coast, had been "approached by Google" to buy some online advertising.

I was surprised because, although the people who live there think it’s wonderful, the city of the Gold Coast is not exactly at the centre of things. In fact, calling it a "city" is a bit of a stretch: the population is pushing half a million but the municipal area is spread out over some 1,400 square kilometres and along 70 kilometres of coastline. There is a wide swathe of built-up area and a central hotel/residential section with tall buildings. But for most Australians the term "Gold Coast" conjures up holidays/retirement/touristville.

I live just over the state border in another holiday town called Tweed Heads and when I tried to use Google Earth recently to show someone where I live I could not get close. So, as I say, I was surprised that Google, if the story is true, is out and about selling advertising in our neck of the woods.

Then I read a fascinating post on Robert X. Cringely’s I, Cringely: The Pulpit blog, When Being a Verb is Not Enough: Google Wants to be YOUR Internet. I picked up on this from a post on Dan Farber’s post Google’s aiming to become the Starbucks of the digital universe.

In his post, Cringely observes that Google "now controls more network fiber than any other organization". He goes on to say that "Google wants to — in its own way — control the Internet." And adds, " In fact, they probably control it already and we just haven’t noticed."

Commenting on news reports of Google’s plans for data centers with massive capacity in his State of South Carolina (pop. 4 million), he speculates that Google has a very big picture indeed:

I think Google is building for a future they see but most of the rest of us don’t. I’ll go further and guess that Google is planning to build similar data centers in many states and that the two centers they are apparently preparing to build here in South Carolina are probably intended mainly to SERVE South Carolina. That’s perhaps 100,000 servers for four million potential users or 40 users per server. What computing service could possibly require such resources?

His answer to that question? "Google intends to take over most of the functions of existing fixed networks in our lives, notably telephone and cable television".

USA today, tomorrow the world? Or is it already happening even here and we just don’t know about it?

My first reaction was fairly negative. Do I really want Google to have so much control? Maybe not. But given the lack of much sign of Australian ISPs being willing to provide serious bandwidth where I live and do business, the prospect of the Big G coming to town and ramping up the technology could have its attractions.

Tags: Google, Cringely, bandwidth, Gold Coast, Tweed Heads

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