Google, the number one search engine, said Wednesday it plans to test ultra high speed broadband in an experiment that could bring gigabit Internet to as many as half-a-million people, including home businesses.
"We're planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States," said Product Managers Minnie Ingersoll and James Kelly in a post on Google's Official Blog.
"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."
Reaction to the annoucement, so far, has been positive.
"An ultrafast and open broadband will not only provide a new and exciting platform for the next generation of Internet services and apps, but will hopefully inject new life into the extinct third party ISP marketplace," said Markham Erickson, Executive Director of the Open Internet Coalition, in an e-mailed statement.
"We hope this will serve as an example to other network operators that the open model should not be feared, but should be emulated. Profit and openness are mistakenly seen to be in conflict; in fact we believe they are synergistic and amplifying," Erickson added.
Though aimed at consumers, the tests have implications for business applications as well. Google said it envisions an open network with service available from several providers. "Consistent with our past advocacy, we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way," Google said.
"Like our WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of this project is to experiment and learn," the blog post continued.
"Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there's still more to be done. We hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone."
Such high speeds make it possible to download a full-length hi-definition motion picture in five minutes, Google said. Other example applications include 3D streaming medical imagery across long distances, telework, and telepresence applications.
Google, however, admits that the killer app for ultra-broadband may be something not yet imagined that develops out of the experiment.
The company did not name the cities where the test will take place and is seeking input from cities interested in participating by March 26. Google said it would announce the cities its select and other details of the program later this year.