Google's Ultra-Fast Broadband: Questions and Answers

I don't know if you've heard, but Google's adding some fiber into its diet.

Hang on, now: The G-Gang isn't backed up, so to speak. We're talking fiber-optics here -- the stuff of high-speed Internet glory.

Google Broadband Internet
Google, you see, has just announced plans to build a series of uberfast broadband networks in cities across America. The Google broadband service would bring speeds up to a hundred times faster than what we currently use, the crew from Mountain View says, and it'd all be delivered directly to our homes.

So what's the deal? Are the days of independent ISPs behind us? Is the Internet about to change forever? Is Google finally turning evil and taking over the world?

Hey, these kinds of questions always come up when Google reveals big plans. But not to fear, my compadres -- we've got some answers. Eleven of 'em, in fact. Read on.

1. What exactly will Google's broadband network do?

Google's broadband network will bring a faster form of Internet access to a handful of U.S. communities. Right now, it's described as an experimental project, so it'll reach only a small number of places to start.

2. How fast are we talking here?

Google says its fiber network will offer speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

3. What cities will get access to Google's fiber network?

That's yet to be determined. At the moment, Google is calling upon communities to express interest in participating in the trial. That window will remain open until March 26; Google says it'll then go through the submissions, make some on-site visits, and ultimately announce the cities it's selected sometime later this year.

4. How will Google decide which cities get the broadband access?

By seeing who offers up the best bribes, of course -- isn't that how this stuff works?

Ah, but I jest (let's hope so, anyway). Google says it'll look for areas in which its fiber networks could be installed quickly and efficiently. The company will also consider how much community support has been expressed, what kind of resources are available, how weather conditions might affect progress, and how local regulations might play into the plans.

Either that, or it'll hold a trivia deathmatch to see which mayor can answer the most Google interview questions.

5. Can I submit my city to be considered, even if I'm not involved in government?

You'd better believe it, bucko. While Google is hoping to hear from city managers and elected officials, it's also encouraging statements of interest from individual residents and community-oriented groups -- in fact, those are the very statements that'll help determine the aforementioned measurements of community support. Should you be so inclined, you can go to the Google Fiber for Communities site to get involved.

6. Will Google's broadband service be free?

No free rides here. Google says its service will be provided at "a competitive price."

7. Would I end up paying Google to get on-board, then?

Probably not directly. Like with its Android mobile phone platform, Google plans to make the broadband network "open access," meaning numerous service providers will sign on to utilize and manage the systems. You'd be able to choose from any of those independent broadband providers.

8. So how many people will actually get this thing?

Too soon to say. Google estimates anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 people being involved in its trial run.

9. What does Google hope to accomplish here?

Officially, Google says its goal is to "experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone." The company envisions the development of new kinds of "bandwidth-intensive killer apps" and other Web-based innovations that wouldn't be possible with today's comparatively turtle-like speeds.

10. Okay, but what's Google really after?

World domination, obviously -- we've already established that. But seriously, it's hard to gauge what the company's true long-term ambitions might be. Aside from the whole "making the Internet better for everyone" idea, one could speculate any number of potential business benefits for the big G.

Traditionally, Google has been pretty up-front about privacy matters and how it uses our information, so odds are, we'll gain a clearer picture of how data will and won't be used as the project comes closer to fruition.

11. When will Google's fiber network actually go online?

Geez, you sure ask a lot of specific questions. No target date has been shared just yet. Google has only vaguely stated that it hopes to have the network up and running "as soon as possible."

12. I thought you said there were only 11 questions.

Well, yes. But to be fair, this last one was more of an inquisitive statement than an actual question. Give a guy a break, eh?

JR Raphael is a PCWorld contributing editor and the co-founder of eSarcasm. He's on Facebook: facebook.com/The.JR.Raphael

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