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Washington to apply for Google's fiber Internet network

The District will bid to become one of Google's testbeds for ultra-fast broadband, according to city councilmember Mary Cheh.

Cheh, who oversees the office of the chief technology officer, said the city will apply to receive fiber-to-home broadband speeds of 1 gigabyte per second, as announced by Google last week. Several municipalities, including Seattle and Rochester, N.Y., have announced they would also apply for Google's networks.

Cheh said it appeared that Google was targeting small markets, so an application by the District would probably involve coverage of only a portion of the city.

“This could be huge and something that would greatly help our community schools, libraries and our relationship with the federal government,” said Cheh, who represents Ward 3.

Currently, Comcast offers broadband speeds of up to 50 megabits per second. Verizon announced it is bringing its FiOs service, with speeds of up to 100 megabits per second, to the District over the next several years.

Google announced it would launch tests for fiber-optic Internet networks that would bring access speeds that are about 100 times faster than what's offered to most Americans today. Critics say the announcement is more public-relations ploy than an earnest attempt to upgrade national broadband access. The company said its tests will serve 50,000 to 500,000 users and it would choose municipalities through an application process.

By Cecilia Kang  |  February 16, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband  
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