Google Plans Gigabit Fiber Internet for 50,000 to 500,000 homes

There is several places reporting this based on a google blog post.

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.

Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that we have in mind:

* 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.

Google has plenty of fiber and can easily activate some of it to enable this new ISP service.

Google said it would use fiber optic lines to the home, the same technology used by many telecommunications companies, but declined to give details about whether it would build, buy or rent such services and how much the venture would cost.

Technology Review has coverage

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.

PC World coverage

Analysts have long speculated on Google’s fiber holdings. The company has been buying fiber lines in the US for some years now. Now Google appears ready at last to run real networks on the fiber. Google also has close ties with fiber infrastructure wholesalers like Level 3 and

Google says it will use an open access model, where the owner of the network sells wholesale space on the network to third party ISPs, who will then sell broadband service to consumers under their own flag. Here’s Google’s own description of the plan.

Google isn’t talking about building a nationwide network. In fact, based on Google’s announcement, the network will reach but a tiny slice of US broadband consumers. So it’s mostly symbolic at this point.

And Google certainly isn’t the first to do this: the fiber-based Utopia Network covering 18 cities in Utah has operated under the same model. The big ISPs worked feverishly in the Utah state legislature to stop the Utopia Network in its early days. But the network got built, and has been active for years.

If the network goes national, those will be important questions to explore. For now, though, Google has a rare opportunity to put real pressure on large ISPs like AT&T and Comcast to sell more bandwidth for less money.