Google to test ultrafast Internet access

Google announced last week that it will offer ultra high-speed Internet access — 1Gb/s — to as many as a half million homes in a test to showcase the kinds of things that will be possible if the United States had faster broadband networks.

Google is seeking to prod telecommunications companies to offer faster Internet service in the United States. The company has long been unhappy with the state of broadband in America, where speeds lag far behind those of other developed countries. Google also noted its new network will be “open access.”

The term “open access” is a way for Google to tweak it competitors. Google’s approach to broadband is on a collision course with the major network providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon Communications, who oppose Google’s efforts to impose “network neutrality” rules upon broadband providers.

President Obama and his Democratic-controlled FCC have promised to pass policies that support network neutrality. Google’s move comes as the FCC is debating new rules for the Internet and preparing a national broadband plan commissioned by Congress that will probably call for higher-speed networks to be available nationwide.

“We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1Gb/s, fiber-to-the-home connections,” said Minnie Ingersoll and James Kelly, project managers at Google. “We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.”

“Imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the Web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York,” the post continued. “Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture.”

Google said that over the next six weeks it would solicit proposals from communities interested in the service. The company hopes that the service can be deployed by the end of the year in some areas.