updated 01:10 pm EST, Wed February 10, 2010
Google gigabit would be open, rival FiOS
Google today upturned the US Internet business by promising Google Fiber for Communities. The "experimental" service will give between 50,000 and 500,000 users 1Gbps fiber optic service, or more than 20 times faster than the fastest readily available Internet access in the US. At peak speeds, it would be enough to download a full HD movie in about five minutes and could support such exotic content as 3D video webcasts.
The trial service would be used by Google to test very high-bandwidth Internet apps and would even be used to help other companies, as Google plans to test new techniques for deploying expensive and sometimes fragile fiber. The search giant hopes to defuse controversy early by claiming that its access will be open and use non-punishing network management and even let other providers offer service through the network.
Google doesn't have a timetable for when the first service will be active but is putting out a request to local governments to see which ones are interested in the fiber rollout.
The company has been one of the strongest advocates for widely available broadband and has frequently been the staunchest supporter of net neutrality as an official US government policy, as making both available feeds into Google's core ad and search revenue. A similar approach has led to its offering free Wi-Fi during the holidays and near the Google campus as well as advocating for new technology such as "white space" unlicensed wireless.
Such an attitude has frequently put it at odds with major incumbent cable, DSL and fiber providers. Many of these have lobbied against any plan that would require them to serve more rural areas, which aren't as profitable for providers as cities; in some cases they have filed lawsuits to prevent smaller towns from offering faster, cheaper service even when carriers themselves have declined to provide enough coverage. With the notable exception of Verizon's FiOS, most have also increasingly tried capping and throttling service and have fought publicly against neutrality rules.