Google takes Telstra call on US broadband


Telstra today said it had spoken with Google’s Australian management about the search giant’s plans announced overnight to provide half a million US residents with fibre broadband in a trial in the US.

“The Google communication has just been with the local management,” said Telstra chief executive David Thodey at the company’s half-yearly financial results session this morning.

He said the search giant was just keeping Telstra informed, it was “nothing more than that”, and he understood it was early days for the company’s broadband plans.

In general, Thodey said Telstra had a complex relationship with Google on multiple levels, with different sections of the telco’s business – for example in its Sensis directories business and also with its Gmail email platform. In addition, Thodey noted Google’s plans to construct a submarine cable across the Pacific and pointed out Telstra was involved with mobiles using Google’s Android mobile operating system.

In relation to the question of whether Telstra saw Google as a threat, Thodey pointed out that a decade ago, the telco was unsure where Microsoft fit into the equation and whether the software giant was a threat. “Now Microsoft is a very strong partner,” he said.

“I think Google are going to be an interesting play as we go forward,” said Thodey.

Google’s US plan will see the company build and operate fibre infrastructure in certain testbed sites across the nation, giving other companies third-party access to offer their own services on the networks.

“Like our WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn.” said Google product managers Minnie Ingersoll and James Kelly in a post on the company’s blog overnight.

“Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there’s still more to be done. We don’t think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone.”