By Kim Hart - 02/10/10 06:16 PM EST
Google is asking interested local governments to complete a "request for information" to help the company determine where to build the network. It is unclear if Google will favor a rural or unserved area over an urban setting. It is also unclear if Google will continue to run the networks after the "trials" end.
FCC Chair Julius Genachowski said he planned to "build upon such private-sector initiatives" in the National Broadband Plan due to Congress next month. The plan is rumored to be about 2,000 pages.
Open-internet advocates applauded Google's announcement.
Markham Erickson, executive director of the Open Internet Coalition, said the fast network will "inject new life into the extinct third-party ISP marketplace."
“We hope this will serve as an example to other network operators that the open model should not be feared, but should be emulated," he said.
Free Press policy director Ben Scott said "Google's proposed experiment with building ultra-fast, open broadband pipelines in a handful of communities follows a trail already blazed by Verizon's FiOS network, which has fiber optic cables capable of speeds comparable to what Google proposes....The world's most advanced broadband nations already have networks capable of these speeds--we are years behind in the race."
Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn called Google's announcement "forward-thinking" by "giving consumers the experience of a true next-generation network."
Google has been in the Internet-provider market before. In 2005, it teamed up with Earthlink to create a Wi-Fi network to cover the entire city of San Francisco. But the deal fell apart when municipal Wi-Fi networks proved too expensive to sustain.