Commentary

Google Delays Plans For Fiber-To-The-Home Network

Citizens of Topeka, Kansas will have to wait a while to learn whether calling their town "Google" for the month of March was enough to entice the search giant to build a new super-fast fiber-to-the-home Web service in the city.

Google said today that it won't name the towns it's chosen to test the service until 2011. "We had planned to announce our selected community or communities by the end of this year, but the level of interest was incredible -- nearly 1,100 communities across the country responded to our announcement -- and exceeded our expectations," Milo Medin, vice president of access services, said on the company's blog. "While we're moving ahead full steam on this project, we're not quite ready to make that announcement."

Back in February, Google announced that it wanted to test a network that would transmit content at one gigabit per second -- far faster than what's commercially available today -- and at reasonable prices.

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The tremendous interest isn't surprising when you consider the paltry broadband offerings available in the U.S. Consider, almost seven in 10 Web connections in the country are too slow to meet the government's definition of broadband, according to a recent Federal Communications Commission report.

Coincidentally, this week also marked the deadline for comments to the FCC about a controversial net neutrality proposal.

Net neutrality rules would require Internet service providers to treat all traffic equally (by not degrading or blocking service, for instance), but wouldn't impose any particular speed or pricing requirements. Nonetheless, the issues are related: If more ISPs competed for consumers' subscriber fees, the providers would have greater market incentives to offer faster connections, as well as to ensure that consumers can reach the sites they want to visit.

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