As part of its ongoing ambition to expand into new markets, search giant Google has announced plans to introduce an "experimental fibre network" that could bring broadband speeds of up to 1Gbps to half a million US homes.
Google, who already offers Internet services such as free Wi-Fi to residents of Mountain View, claims its fibre network will be used to "experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone".
Initially available at a small number of yet-to-be-determined locations across the United States, Google's network will provide a 1Gbps broadband service at "competitive prices" for up to 500,000 people, said the company in a statement.
Claiming to use the project as an opportunity to "experiment and learn", Google hopes to study the benefits of ultra-high-speed broadband for next-generation web applications, a market in which it remains a key figure. The company adds that it will test new ways to build fibre networks, and will consequently share its findings to help broadband progress throughout the world.
Although it remains unclear whether or not Google will offer broadband services directly as an ISP itself, the company has confirmed that its fibre network will maintain an "open access" policy, allowing third-party service providers to use its facilities and create greater choice for the consumer.
Despite its first venture into consumer fibre broadband, Google already owns and operates a vast fibre network that is used to link together its US data centres. The company is expected to tap into this network in order to build links to homes. Google is currently appealing to state and city officials to register an interest in the project, and adds that consumers can also nominate their own community by visiting google.com/appserve/fiberrfi. A spokesperson for the company has confirmed that Google currently has no plans for a fibre network in the UK.
The US, like the UK and many other countries around the world, is actively seeking solutions to ultra-high-speed broadband for a larger percentage of its population, with President Barack Obama pledging to spend $7.2 billion on new broadband infrastructure during his first month in office.
A Google-provided clip featuring product manager James Kelly introduces the experimental fibre network and can be viewed below.