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Google's experiment: leapfrogging ISPs to deliver ultra-high-speed Web

Google is planning to launch an experimental ISP effort by offering ultra-high speed connections to cities across the U.S.
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

Google, eager to take the Internet to the next level, isn't waiting around for the telecoms or wireless providers to kick those connections into ultra-high-speed mode. In a blog post this morning, the company said it's planning to build and test ultra-high speed networks in a small number of regions across the U.S.

The experimental fiber network will deliver speeds more than 100 times faster than most consumer connections today - a 1-gigabit-per-second fiber-to-the-home connection. The company said it plans to provide competitively-priced services to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

So why does Google think we need faster connections to the cloud? Here's its list of some examples of what a faster connection could bring:

  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We'll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we'll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with ourpast advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

With any other post, I might argue that Google is taking things too far by putting its paws into too many baskets. I already commented this week on how I thought it was a bad idea for Google to act as retailer of the new Nexus One mobile phones. Now, I'd be inclined to ask why they want to be an ISP.

But Google has been very clear that this is an experimental project. From the post:

Like our WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. 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.

The first step is to reach out to cities that might be interested in being test locations for Google's ISP efforts. The company is issuing an open Request for Information to identify communities that are interested. To help bring it all together, Google has put information on this page. And, of course, there's a YouTube explainer video, too.

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