Google to Offer Ultra Fast 1Gbps Broadband

Dennis Faas's picture

At least five cities have already said they are interested in taking up Google's offer to build broadband networks running at a staggering 1 Gigabit per second (1Gbps). The comments come as analysts try to figure out what Google gains from the scheme.

The firm says it will help fund networks serving between 50,000 and 500,000 customers. Cities whose officials have already said they are looking into the proposals include Winston, North Carolina; Peachtree City, Georgia; San Francisco, California; and Greensboro, North Carolina. Officials in Ontario County, New York have also shown an interest. (Source:

Hardware Limitations Could Hurt Plan

There are some inherent limitations to the promised 1 Gigabit speed, however.

Most businesses still run internal networks with a maximum speed between machines of 100Mbps, meaning they couldn't make the most of the increased speed. Home users who prefer to work wirelessly would also be limited to 56Mbps through most wireless routers. Of course, that's considerably faster than the vast majority of home users currently receive so the Google plans would make a major difference, even though much of the capacity might not be used.

Google 1Gbps to be Profitable in Future

There are several possible explanations for why Google is interested in getting into the broadband business.

One reason is that it is simply an altruistic measure. The costs of setting up such networks are so high that it's almost impossible it could be profitable as a purely commercial operation. Google may be trying to show that it's immense profits and cash reserves allow it to fund projects for the public good. Given the government's efforts to improve broadband provision, Google may also be trying to carry out some "good causes" in the hope of easing regulatory pressures on it other activities. (Source:

Another possible reason is that Google believes faster speeds will encourage users to spend more time online, particularly on video sites such as its own YouTube, or to visit more websites overall. Both of those will boost the entire online advertising industry, in which Google is a major player.

The third and more sinister explanation is that Google wants to more control over who does what online. For example, it's technically possible that the firm would be able to track the online activity of people using its broadband network in even more detail. That could be a valuable advantage for the type of targeted advertising which the firm specializes in.

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