Google readies small-scale 1Gbps broadband trial

Is 50Mbps broadband already starting to seem a little sluggish? Then why not petition Google to implement a 1Gbps fiber service in your community? We're not kidding. Google has announced plans to roll out a competitively priced, 1Gbps fiber-to-the-home service in a "small number of trial locations across the United States," and it welcomes both home users and local officials to nominate their community as a trial area.

If everything works out, 50,000 to 500,000 users will be able to enjoy the service. With 1Gbps of downstream bandwidth, they'll be able to hit theoretical peak download speeds of around 125MB/s, or fast enough to download the contents of a 50GB Blu-ray disc in just over six and a half minutes.

Is Google trying to give Comcast and other cable providers a run for their money? Perhaps not quite yet. Google calls the service an "experiment" and says it will be pursuing the following goals:

  • 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 our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

Specifically, that "choice of multiple service providers" line suggests Google could allow other ISPs like Comcast to offer services through the network.

In any case, the company is taking nominations for target communities until March 26. The winners, so to speak, will be announced "later this year." (Thanks to TR reader David Green for the heads up.)

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