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Google's ultra-fast broadband experiment

11 Feb 10

Imagine having broadband in your home offering speeds of up to 1Gbps (gigabit per second) – that’s what Google is planning to offer to up to half a million Americans in a trial programme to show what is possible with the right connectivity.
To give you an idea of how fast that is, broadband Internet in this country currently offers theoretical download speeds of up to 7.6Mbps (megabits per second) – note that’s “theoretical”. In reality, broadband speeds here are affected by many factors including traffic loading at your ISP at any given time, and your distance from your local telephone exchange.
Google is planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States, promising to deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.
“Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone,” Google’s official blog says. “Imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York. Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture.”
The plan involves extending Google’s existing fibre network, which connects its data centres, directly to people’s homes. The project will aim to test new “killer” apps and services, and the network will be available to any interested ISP.
Countries like Japan and South Korea already offer ultra-fast broadband to ordinary consumers, but for most countries it’s a dream of the future.
The government’s $1.5b fibre rollout is meant to improve Internet speeds here, although it’s going to be aimed largely at business users – at least in the early stages. That’s because it’s more economic to roll out fibre into business districts. New subdivisions are generally getting fibre laid as they are developed, but established suburbs are unlikely to see fibre at their front gates anytime soon.

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