Google announces plans for a gigabit fiber network, will serve over 50,000 homes

It had to happen eventually. This morning, Google announced its plans to build a 1 gigabit per second fiber network in several trial locations across the U.S. The company will service at least 50,000 users (and up to 500,000) at a “competitive price.” More so than its free Wi-Fi in Mountain View, the fiber plans will finally make Google a full-fledged ISP.

To put it in perspective, a gigabit connection would be 10 times faster than the fastest connection available to many Americans — a 100 megabit connection via cable or current fiber technology.

Like many of its projects, the fiber network would allow Google to explore the possibility of a faster Internet. Specifically, the company wants to focus on next generation web applications, new ways to deploy fiber networks — and perhaps most significantly, Google will allow users to choose their own provider on the network. They call it an “open access” network.

As someone who drools at the thought of a 100 megabit internet connection, the possibility of a gigabit connection is downright orgasmic. Of course, it won’t make a big difference initially if the rest of the web is stuck at slower speeds, but it offers some killer possibilities down the line. It also finally allows home users, and organizations outside of higher education, to gain access to a network almost as fast as the near-mythical Internet 2.

Google is putting out a request for information from interested individuals and communities. The company will collect responses until March 26, and will announce target locations later in the year.

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