WASHINGTON (AP) – Google plans to build experimental, ultra-fast Internet networks in a handful of communities around the country.
The search company said Wednesday that its fiber-optic broadband networks will deliver speeds of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 Americans.
Google Inc. says those systems will be more than 100 times faster than the networks that most Americans have access to today.
In a blog post, the company said the fiber-to-the-home networks will let consumers download a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes and allow rural health clinics to send 3-D medical images over the Web.
Google says it will seek input from communities that might be interested in getting one of the testbed networks.
A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Washington Post  that Google doesn't currently have plans to expand beyond the initial tests but will evaluate as the tests progress.
"Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone," wrote product managers Minni Ingersoll and James Kelly in the blog, titled "Think big with a gig: Our experimental fiber network."
Google CEO Eric Schmidt told The Washington Post during a visit late last year that ultra-high-speed Internet connections were imperative for a next generation of applications to take off for the Web. Currently, he said, most network services fall short.
National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman Brian Dietz had the following to say regarding Google’s broadband experiments: “We look forward to learning more about Google’s broadband experiment in the handful of trial locations they are planning. The cable industry has invested $161 billion over the past 13 years to build a nationwide broadband infrastructure that is available to 92 percent of U.S. homes, and we will continue to invest billions more to continually improve the speed and performance of our networks and provide tens of millions of consumers with the best possible broadband experience.”
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