How Seeing the Big Picture Like a Search Giant Can Grow Your Market Share
Since the dot-com boom, the world has seen access providers to the Internet—such as AT&T and Comcast—rapidly build what essentially amounts to a monopoly over the backbone of the Internet. For the everyday user, it is virtually impossible to access the Internet without one of the major access providers; even enterprises find it difficult to cost-effectively access the Internet without one of these major providers. But a change is on the horizon. Since 2005, we have seen ripples slowly spread across the surface of the access pond, which has rarely, if ever, been disturbed. The time has never been better, therefore, for members of the Dark Fiber Community to challenge the status quo, shrink the telecom giants’ market share and grow within the industry.
Doing so, however, will require an understanding of the big picture and the vision that Google had in 2005.
The status quo was born during the early days of the telecom giants that eventually monopolized access to the Internet as we know it today. In these formative days the world saw a boom in Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies and enterprises, both big and small, that tried to get a piece of this new industry’s market share. The creation of hundreds of national ISPs drove Internet Transit prices down dramatically. While there wasn’t a surplus in local access fiber, supply of Layer 3 Transit far out-paced its demand during the 90’s and early 2000’s, which hurt, and even crippled, some ISPs at the time. In an attempt to seek a return on their investments—in place for a number of years (some more than a decade)—the telecom giants begun to put new programs and services into play to contend for market share and minimize their loses. One notable counter-ploy that ISPs attempted in response was to create “fast and slow lane” access to the Internet, only allowing for high-speed access to those who would pay a premium price.
Watching tech powerhouses like Google invest hundreds of millions of dollars in 2005 into dark fiber was a clear competitive shot across the bow of the telecoms. It served as a warning from the rest of the industry that refused to allow a monopoly over the Internet’s backbone to occur, or at least be sustainable. Joined by Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, the war against the telecom giants’ market share of the Internet and its backbone has quietly continued to rage, according to ReadWrite. It would be safe to say that these companies that were born and raised on the Internet became the foot soldiers on the front lines of this war, and their efforts, in large part, have been successful.
If we look at Google as an example, we can see that its wireless carrier alternative project, Project Fi, is commencing it’s roll out in select areas, beginning the search engine company’s return on its nearly decade-old investment. By connecting with carrier partners and hardware makers, plus leveraging the large amount of white space it purchased in 2005, Google has created a new mobile network that intelligently switches among data access points to create a seamless connection that is faster, cheaper and more reliable than its competition.
What Google has accomplished with Fi is remarkable, and it is placing fear in the hearts of mobile carriers like Verizon. But the important take away from Google isn’t about what a tech giant can do when put toe-to-toe with a telecom powerhouse; rather, it’s that great goals can be accomplished with the right partners even when faced with taking down the status quo.
And today, the fall of the status quo doesn’t seem too far out of sight. Sure, AT&T and Comcast are still two of the top telecom companies in the industry, but they are joined by another 82,234 businesses and enterprises that are looking to take that top status away. As a $474 billion industry with an expected CAGR of almost 11 percent over the next five years, there is more than enough to go around for the startups, smaller ISPs and all of the infrastructure enterprises that are building dark fiber networks and collocation facilities and connecting hundreds of thousands of people to the wealth of knowledge that is the internet every single day.
If the majority of the ISP industry players that don’t stand at the top—with billion dollar profits like AT&T and Comcast—simply begin to see the big picture like Google did almost 10 years ago, we will begin to see shifts in market share sooner rather than later.