Google plans 1Gbit/sec. test network at Stanford

Google is still evaluating applications for its Google Fiber high-speed broadband project, but one community is now on track to get a test version of the network.

The company plans to break ground in early 2011 on a network in the Residential Subdivision at Stanford University, just a few miles north of Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters. In an entry posted Thursday to the official Google blog, Product Manager James Kelly described the Stanford network as a "beta" deployment of technologies for the Google Fiber project. That initiative is intended to deliver as much as 1G bps (bits per second) of Internet speed to a small number of U.S. residents. That's at least 10 times the speed available in most U.S. communities. Lessons learned at Stanford will be applied to the larger project.

Google announced in February it would deploy super-fast fiber networks to homes in one or more communities in the U.S., reaching between 50,000 and 500,000 people. The idea is to seed the market for new applications, try out new ways of deploying fiber networks and build a model of an open-access network under net neutrality rules.

At least 600 communities have submitted arguments for why they should be chosen for the high-speed network. Some have resorted to stunts, such as Topeka, Kan., renaming itself Google for the month of March. The winners are set to be announced by the end of this year.

The choice of Stanford's Residential Subdivision was separate from the national search, Google said. The subdivision is on the Stanford campus but is a housing area of about 850 homes owned by university faculty and staff. The layout of the area and the small number of homes there make it well-suited to the test rollout, Google said. Stanford was open to experimentation with fiber on its streets, and the proximity to Google will make it easy to monitor progress, Google said.

The company does not know when the network will be completed and has not determined pricing for the service, according to spokesman Dan Martin. The company is not focused on making a profit from the network.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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