Google trials 1GB fibre broadband service in US

Google has today announced that it is launching its own fibre-optic broadband service in the US called Google Fiber, starting with a trial run for residents of Stanford, California.

Google signed an agreement with Stanford University to build a super-speed fibre-optic broadband network for the Residential Subdivision of the university which amounts to some 850 homes belonging to faculty and staff members.

Residents of the area will be able to get internet speeds of up to 1Gb per second, over 100 times the speed most people are used to. To put that into perspective the UK government is hoping to get 2Mbps speeds for everyone in the country. 

Google is selecting new communities to roll out the service to, inviting residents anywhere to call on the company to pick their area. Google is hoping to provide its service for between 50,000 and half a million people, but if it really takes off, as it could, Google might decide to take on the big telcos and offer broadband to everyone.

The prospect of Google providing our internet service as well as being one of the dominant players on the internet itself raises a number of serious questions. With Google’s tarnished reputation from privacy abuses like the Street View fiasco, can it really be trusted to be an ISP? 

The deal Google made with Verizon a few months ago over net neutrality caused staunch criticism from every angle, including former allies in the net neutrality debate. Google will not have to worry about net neutrality, of course, if it’s the one calling the shots on services.

While it is unlikely that Google would risk the backlash that would inevitably arise from overtly abusing such a position, for example by blocking rival company websites on its network, Americans will need to decide if the superior speeds are worth handing Google that much more power. Call us paranoid. We know you are already.

The service should be available in early 2011.