Google launches open access FTTH network trial

Are you dissatisfied with your slow DSL connection or spotty cable modem connection? Well, Google may be your savior. Following similar efforts in targeting the wireless market, the search engine giant is hatching an experimental Fiber to the Home (FTTH) trial that it claims will deliver up to 1 Gbps speeds to homes in select markets.

Interested communities have until March 26 to respond to the company's Request for Information (RFI). Google will then announce selected cities for the trial later this year.

"Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone," wrote Google product manager James Kelly in a blog post yesterday morning. "We are going to try out new ways to build and operate fiber networks and share what we learn with the world."

Because Google is following an open access model for its proposed FTTH network, consumers would be able to choose their Internet service from various service providers at what it says is "a competitive price." The company projects that the trial could serve between 50,000 to 500,000 users.

Launched just as the government doles out more grants under the government's broadband stimulus plan, analysts believe that Google's move here is clearly related to its efforts to push net neutrality and gauge the interest in super high bandwidth connectivity. "First, they are testing the demand for gigabit data services: who wants them, which communities would step forward, etc.," said Mike Jude, Ph.D., Program Manager: Consumer Communications Services, Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan. "In the second place, they are applying pressure to the public policy types to get on with open Internet regulations. After all, Google is primarily a network user, not a network builder. If the carriers can be made to deploy broadband and open it for equal access, then Google can accomplish more in terms of revenue generation than it could by deploying networks."  

Of course, there are a number of lingering questions with Google's impending trial. For one, Google has not indicated the pricing structure or what kind of an FTTH technology platform it would use for the trial. Also complicating matters is Google's track record in operating broadband networks. Other than operating a small WiFi network, its previous joint effort with Earthlink to run a WiFi network in San Francisco was shelved due to political and financial issues.

For more:
- Wall Street Journal has this article
- You can also click here to find out more about the project

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