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Google plans to offer broadband service

February 10, 2010 |  8:32 am

Google is getting into the broadband business, taking on the cable and telephone companies in an effort to make speedy Internet access available to more people.

The Internet giant announced on its blog Wednesday that it planned to deploy a fiber-optic network to at least 50,000 homes and as many as 500,000. The network will deliver faster Internet speed at a competitive price, the company said. 

It will build and test broadband networks in one or a small number of trial locations across the United States. Communities that want to be considered can apply here.

Google called the effort an "experiment." It has no current plans to expand beyond the one testbed, said product manager Minnie Ingersoll.

"We have no plans to make this a nationwide network," Ingersoll said. "Our goal here is to experiment and learn."

Google would not estimate how much building such a network will cost because much will depend on the community or communities it decides to serve. But Ingersoll said the company plans to spend what it takes.

Google has been using its muscle to make the Internet faster and more widely available on desktops and on mobile phones. This move is likely to create additional pressure for global broadband access.

Google has some experience in this department. In 2006, it began operating its own wireless network in Mountain View, Calif., where it is headquartered. Two years later, it bid unsuccessfully for wireless spectrum in auctions held by the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC recently began to explore the possibility of a national broadband policy.

In a statement, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said: "Big broadband creates big opportunities. This significant trial will provide an American testbed 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."

-- Jessica Guynn

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