Yesterday, Google announced an experiment to build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations. According to Google, “These networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.” Further information about this initiative may be found at http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi.
Can this benefit libraries? The publicly released documentation is not explicit on this point, so I requested clarification from Google. I was assured that Google’s intent is to include community institutions such as libraries. In part, however, the inclusion of libraries (and other community institutions) depends on the selected project proposals, which are submitted by municipal officials such as mayors, city managers, and the like. So if your library has any interest in this initiative, it is important to touch base with your local government leaders so that they know that libraries need high-speed broadband. Of course, it isn’t a bad thing to communicate this message to your local government leaders, even without a Google initiative as motivation.
The ultimate desirability of this initiative for libraries (and others) is still to be determined, as a number of important details are not yet known. But for now, I just wanted to place this initiative on your broadband radar.
Alan S. Inouye
Director, Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP)