Google announced yesterday that it would be rolling out 1 gigabit (1Gbps) fiber optic internet to certain test markets (from 50,000 to possibly 500,000) in the near future.  1Gbps is so much faster than anything publicly available to most consumers and businesses, that it opens up immeasurable possibilities.  In 2009, the average internet speed was 5.1 Mbps, which is only 994.9 Mbps slower than what Google is planning to offer.  This is what they have to say about what they are trying to test:


* Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it's creating new bandwidth-intensive "killer apps" and services, or other uses we can't yet imagine.
* New deployment techniques: We'll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we'll share key lessons learned with the world.
* Openness and choice: We'll operate an "open access" network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy,we'll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.

What does this mean to you and me?

First, it will have a direct impact on the market. It will force Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T, and other ISP’s to rethink their pricing models, as well as upgrade their networks to try and compete with 1Gbps speeds (currently 100 Mbps is as fast as you can find, and only in select areas).

Secondly, 1Gbps speeds will also put an end to usage caps that most ISP have started implementing.  Having that big a pipe dictates that people will start consuming more data, and figure out new ways to make the most of that fast a connection.

Finally, giving customers that much bandwidth will allow them to rethink how they use the internet.  Companies that were hesitant to store files or backup to the cloud will be able to the files as quickly and easily as if they were on their local network.  Syncing data between multiple locations can happen almost instantly, making disaster recovery sites and business continuity something much easier to implement.  HD video conferencing will become common place, and more and more HD content will start being consumed on the internet.  At 1Gbps, digital distribution of movies, games, and software, becomes commonplace.  The dividing line between the web and the desktop starts to blur as well, as developers figure out how to make the most of the speed.  Ultimately, the current bandwidth bottleneck that limits what people can do on the internet goes away.

Coming back to reality a bit, it will take some time for this technology to be implemented, and actually get to consumers.  It will also have to be available to more than 50,000 to 500,000 people to really make an impact in the market.

I for one welcome the competition.  The promise of fast cheap internet via fiber optics has been thrown around for years.  Maybe Google entering the market, even in a limited capacity, will force the market to evolve more quickly.