U.S. search engine giant Google has announced its plans to provide Internet users in America with faster Internet service and the capability to do more online. The company says its experimental broadband system will be capable of streaming Web-based content more than 100 times faster than what is commonly available to Americans today.
In a video blog posted on Google's Web site Wednesday, James Kelly, a product manager at the company, outlined what Google hopes to accomplish with its plan.
"We're doing this to because we want to experiment with new ways to make the Web better and faster for everyone, allowing applications that will be impossible today," said James Kelly. "We also want to try out new ways to build and operate fiber networks and share what we learn with the world."
Kelly says that Google will offer the service initially to areas with populations of 50,000 and later expand it to areas that include of up to half a million people.
Google says consumers in those communities will be able to sign up for the service, which would offer connection speeds of 1 gigabit per second. Right now some of the fastest home Internet connections in the United States range from 20 to 50 megabits per second. There are over 1,000 megabits in one gigabit.
The move comes as Google aggressively seeks to grow its Internet realm in a wide range of ways and has grabbed headlines by standing up to China over Internet freedom concerns.
Last month, the company released its first smart phone, challenging the way wireless industry sells handsets. This week, it unveiled Google Buzz, a function that is part of its Internet email service Gmail that seeks to bring together a variety of social networks into one grand collective.
David Sohn, senior policy counsel with the Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington says that in general Google's push for greater speed and capacity will of course ultimately mean more business for the company.
"I think in general they want to kind of push the envelope on Internet speeds because ultimately if the Internet evolves in that direction it increases the pie, in terms of the online environment, and they currently have a pretty large share of that pie," said David Sohn.
Sohn says that it will also put Google in a good strategic position to influence both the public and private sector in terms of broadband networks. The United States Federal Communications Commission is currently working on a national broadband plan that is due to be released next month.
"I think there is definitely an element of this, that's just meant as a prod, they realize that the FCC is currently crafting a national broadband plan and is going to be working on implementing that, and they would like to try to probably influence the kind of goals that get set in that kind of plan," he said. "And so this is both a prod to other carriers and to the FCC to try to raise the bar a little bit."
Google has been experimenting with broadband service for years and currently runs a free wireless or Wi-Fi network in its headquarters city of Mountain View in the western state of California.
With the announcement of its plans to launch the service this week, Google says it is accepting proposals online from individuals in communities, and from local town and city governments alike to participate in its experiment.
The company says it will announce the locations of its test markets later this year.