Google Tests 1G-bps Broadband Network at Stanford University
Google struck a deal with Stanford
University to build a broadband
network fueling Internet speeds of up to 1G bps for 850 homes owned by faculty
and staff on the campus.
The experiment, slated to start in early 2011, is the latest in Google's effort to test how ultra high-speed broadband access might work in homes.
The search engine, which depends on fast broadband connections to ensure its applications serve consumers effectively, said in February it planned to test such networks in American communities serving 50,000 to 500,000 people.
Google accepted applications from municipalities all over the country through March and will announce the winner or winners by the end of the year.
Some city leaders resorted to extreme measures (jumping in freezing water, swimming with sharks, renaming islands) to catch Google's eye to be the site for an ultra high-speed broadband zone.
The Stanford test, characterized as a "beta deployment," will serve as a template for how future deployments in the winning city or cities might fare.
Google Fiber Product Manager James Kelly made it clear that the Stanford network "is completely separate from our community selection process for Google Fiber, which is still ongoing."
Even so, Kelly said this is the first time Google is trying its service out with real customers.
"We'll be able to take what we learn from this small deployment to help scale our project more effectively and efficiently to much larger communities," Kelly added.
The test will allow Google to play with its new fiber optic technologies, normally the purview of broadband carriers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T, as well as the networking gear providers who make the equipment.
Google cited Stanford as the first customer test because the university is close to Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., and is open to the company experimenting with new fiber technologies on its streets.
It certainly doesn't hurt that Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google at Stanford, which later invested in the project that would become the world's leading search engine.
While Google likes to characterize these broadband network dalliances as tests, the company never does anything without some higher meaning and goal.
It's unlikely Google will become a massive, certified global carrier of broadband. But it could create a decent-sized footprint of pipes through which it can sell its own brand of Web services, starting with Google TV, which was launched in October on Logitech companion boxes and Sony Internet TVs and Blu-ray players.
While Google has not formally announced advertising plans for Google TV, the company is the Web's premier digital ad provider, so there's no question it's got an idea of how it wants to target consumers with ads while leveraging the convergence of Web and TV.
Populating speedy broadband networks can help Google TV, as well as boost the company's Web apps and services, such as YouTube.