By Kim Hart - 02/16/10 02:44 PM EST
The company hasn't said how much money it plans to spend, how long the networks will be running or whether it's targeting small towns and rural areas over cities. Cheh said Google would likely only build a network to serve a portion of the city.
At one gigabit per second, a Google-run network would be by far the fastest Internet service available to District residents, exceeding speeds offered by Comcast, Verizon and RCN.
It is unclear how much Google plans to charge residents for the service. The company said it would apply net neutrality rules to the network in an effort to prove that it is possible to run an open network while also turning a profit. But based on current broadband prices, service at 1-gigabit speeds could cost upward of $200 a month--more than most people would be willing to pay.
As Michael Turk wrote in a blog post this morning, "Is Google planning to run its network at a massive loss just to provide the testing ground? If so, how much will we actually learn about how to run such networks in the real world – where networks have to recoup the investment."