Google is soliciting help from U.S. communities to build ultrahigh-speed broadband networks that zip 1G bit of data per second to users' computers, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Google plans to test the networks for anywhere from 50,000 to 500,000 users.
The idea is to help stimulate the creation and use of new applications, such as streaming high-definition video content and real-time multimedia collaboration.
But Google has no experience in this arena, which is dominated by carriers such as Verizon Wireless and AT&T. So it has apparently turned to cities such as Cleveland, Ohio, for help, the Journal noted:
"Among other things, Google asked about the need to have online programs that prove the benefits of an ultrahigh-speed service, says Lev Gonick, chief information officer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland."
Apparently, Gonick is leading an effort to connect 104 houses, hospitals and Case Western Reserve University to a 1G-bps Internet service that is about 100 times faster than what is currently available to most Americans. Call it Super Broadband!
I asked Google to confirm its appeals to grassroots communities and to list any other communities it has reached out to in this endeavor. A company spokesperson told me:
"We've been meeting with a number of companies, third party organizations, and others to discuss our experiment and to learn what others have been doing in this space. We are not sharing details as to whom we have met with or the specifics of our discussions."
Fair enough. In the meantime, Google has attracted no small amount of interest in this effort.
Topeka, Kan., Boulder, Colo., Aspen, Colo., Duluth, Minn., Park City, Utah, Grand Rapids, Mich., Flint, Mich. and Sarasota, Fla. are among the U.S. cities considering or vying for a contract to test the Google broadband service.
Topeka March 3 even went so far as to temporarily change its name to "Google" as it jockeys for position.
Sarasota temporarily renamed City Island Google Island and summarily trashed Topeka and Duluth with this video.
The competitors have until March 26 to ratchet up the rhetoric and make their broadband case to Google.
Interestingly, not long after Google made its broadband network pledge, Cisco Systems sent out an invite to a March 9 Webcast in which it "will make a significant announcement that will forever change the Internet and its impact on consumers, businesses and governments."
Those are lofty words, even for the world's leading networking gear provider.
While some interpreted this positioning as a sign that Cisco would rival Google in offering next-generation broadband networks, Cisco divulged that mystery today in the form of -- surprise -- a new router.
Imagine that! Cisco launching a new router. This CRS-3 Carrier Routing System is actually a big deal because Google could use these routers to help power its broadband network for users.
The CRS-3 is designed to "serve as the foundation of the next-generation Internet and set the pace for the astonishing growth of video transmission, mobile devices and new online services through this decade and beyond."
That sounds like it will empower the next-gen apps Google hopes to see blossom on the strength of its ultrahigh-speed broadband networks.
Sure, Google and Cisco are competing in collaboration, but Google could become one of Cisco's biggest customers, if it isn't already using Cisco's gear.
I've e-mailed Google for comment, though the company doesn't usually talk about its data center gear.
In any case, citizens of Topeka, Duluth and Sarasota rejoice!