Google announced Wednesday another venture without a clear profit motive: an experiment that involves giving ultra-fast one-gigabit-per-second broadband networks to selected areas across the U.S.
The point of this, according to Google's Web page on the subject, is to "experiment and learn" key lessons that would be "shared with the world" about building these ultra fast networks, hopefully giving internet service providers a jump start in providing it themselves. A one-gigabit-per-second connection is 100 times faster than most broadband networks and would allow a feature length movie to be downloaded in less than five minutes, Google says.
To select the test locations, Google is taking requests from members of the public and city governments until March 26. We hope Google does not forget its hometown, Mountain View, when it announces the selected locations near the end of the year. With one goal being to see what sort of applications software developers can produce for ultra fast broadband, it is hard to imagine it not being available in a place flooded with such people and their businesses.
What would such a network be useful for? Google's blog asks people to envision video conferences with three dimensional medical images between rural health clinics and medical specialists, among other things not yet dreamed of.
The high speed fiber optic network would be offered at a "competitive price" to anywhere from 5,000 to as many as 500,000 users. Google says it will offer the service through several providers.