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Google is getting into the broadband network business, at least on a small scale.
The company has been pushing the FCC to require higher baseline speeds as part of the national broadband plan, but has decided to take the do-it-yourself approach.
The company announced Wednesday (Feb. 10) that it would build fiber-to-the home network test beds in various locations, delivering 1 gigabit per second to some 50,000 customers at what it called a "competitive" price, with the goal of multiplying that customer base tenfold.
Setting itself up as something of a private industry variant of the government entities--NTIA, USDA--seeking bids for broadband stimulus build-out funds, Google is soliciting RFI's (request for information) from municipalities across the country who would like to have the network built there.
The RFI was issued Wednesday and cities and communities will have until March 26 to respond.
"We've urged the FCC to look at new and creative ways to get there in its National Broadband Plan, and today we're announcing an experiment of our own," said the company.
Google is essentially looking to demonstrate the type of network it has argued is needed to handle all the killer apps and the HD video that will be the currency of the broadband world.
"Google's project will show the benefits of the open access model, where the owner of the network offers third parties the ability to provide services over their infrastructure," said the Open Internet Coalition in a statement. "Additionally, Google will operate its network on a neutral basis, embracing net neutrality as an operating principle. 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."
"Big broadband creates big opportunities," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski in response to the Google announcement. "This significant trial will provide an American test bed for the next generation of innovative, high-speed Internet apps, devices, and services. The FCC's National Broadband Plan will build upon such private-sector initiatives and will include recommendations for facilitating and accelerating greater investment in broadband, creating jobs and increasing America's global competitiveness."