Hollywood is cautiously watching Google's fiber rollout and some studios have already expressed concerns that the super fast broadband speeds offered over fiber connections will worsen the web piracy problem.
Google is currently laying hundreds of miles of fiber optic cable in Kansas City, as part of an experiment to see how people will be using the Internet when given super fast speeds, with the first homes to be switched on in the new few month. In a smaller test network deployed near Stanford University, download speeds up to 922 Mbps, and upload speeds nearly as fast, have already been recorded. By comparison, the average Internet download speed in the US is only 5 Mbps.
Practically speaking, a 900 Mbps connection can allow your typical pirated movie to be downloaded in only 7 seconds, and even an entire Blu-ray disc can be had for less than 4 minutes. On a flat out 5 Mbps connection, it's 20 minutes and nearly 12 hours respectively.
Google is keen to see if these speeds can be utilized for the next generation of content delivery, and the company sees itself as playing a key role in this future. FCC filings already shown the search company's initial foray into video distribution over its fiber network.
Howard Gantman, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America, warned that super fast speeds could dramatically worsen the piracy situation, pointing to South Korea's own super fast fiber network, where "the home entertainment marketplace was decimated by digital piracy", according to Gantman. But Gantman is hopeful that "efforts can be made" which will "address digital piracy", and at the same time still allow consumers access to a great range of legal services over super fast broadband.
In Australia, where the government is committed to rolling out their National Broadband Network, with fiber connections available to 93% of households, the Hollywood backed anti-piracy group AFACT has already expressed their concerns about piracy on the next-gen network. "We are confident the Government would not want copyright infringement to go on unabated across Australian networks especially with the rollout of the NBN," warned AFACT managing director Neil Gane.
But if history is any indication, Hollywood's cautious acceptance of new technology coupled with their overreaction to piracy issues (resulting in consumer unfriendly measures, such as DRM) could once again allow pirate and pirate services to deliver where legal alternatives are missing.