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Google broadband: company to build 'ultra high-speed' network

Google announced plans Wednesday to built a high-speed fiber-optics network. The move is limited to small communities for now, but could eventually bring Internet prices down and transform the broadband industry.

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“Ultrafast and open broadband will not only provide a new and exciting platform for the next generation of Internet services and apps, but will hopefully inject new life into the extinct third-party ISP marketplace,” said Markham Erickson, executive director of the Open Internet Coalition, said in a statement.

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Google has been acquiring fiber-optic lines for several years, PC World points out, and has developed relationships with companies that build the fiber infrastructure.

“Google certainly isn’t the first to do this,” according to PC World writer Mark Sullivan, noting that Utopia Network covers 18 cities in Utah under the same model.

“The big ISPs worked feverishly in the Utah state legislature to stop the Utopia Network in its early days. But the network got built, and has been active for years,” he writes.

Verizon has poured a reported $23 billion into its FiOS network, which connects fiber lines into the homes of customers. Google has not said how much it plans to spend on the new network.

All eyes on Google

The telecom industry will be watching Google’s trial with great interest.

"We look forward to learning more about Google's broadband experiment in the handful of trial locations they are planning," said Brian Dietz, spokesman for the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, in a statement. "The cable industry has invested $161 billion over the past 13 years to build a nationwide broadband infrastructure,” he said, and will continue to improve “speed and performance.”

But experts say that as Google steps farther into telecom's territory – it already sells its own mobile phone – Internet providers will scramble to keep pace. One analyst told Bloomberg that if Google begins offering a gigabit per second, “it would show that anybody with fiber can do the same thing.”

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