A View from Erica Naone

Google to Offer Superfast Broadband to Homes

The experimental fiber network will deliver gigabit-per-second speeds to up to half a million homes.

  • February 10, 2010

Google’s expansion beyond software continues with plans to build an experimental fiber network, announced today on the Google blog. The company wrote:

We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

The company is currently looking for responses from interested communities.

Google lists several reasons for the move, including enabling bandwidth-intensive apps, learning better ways to deploy high-speed Internet, and its desire to allow users to choose from multiple service providers.

It’s a classic case of “what’s good for the Internet is good for Google.” But it also looks like Google wants to get more people addicted to what really high-speed Internet can do, thereby winning over more customers for Google’s many online services. It’s also possible that the company has software in its lab that requires this type of connection, and it’s building itself a testbed.

Google’s rhetoric around the new broadband offering also brings to mind its efforts in the mobile world to break up the link between specific mobile devices and specific service providers. It’s in Google’s interest for everyone to have access to the same hardware and infrastructure, and for service providers to compete on other features and services.

It’ll be interesting to see how Internet service providers react to this news. Verizon, for one, has made huge investments into its FiOS product, which offers only 50 Mbps–nowhere close to the speeds Google is proposing.

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