Google will seek input from communities that might be interested in getting one of its testbed networks. The company said it was too soon to say how much the networks would cost to build.

The company said it is prepared to sell access to consumers directly at prices that are competitive with existing broadband services, but it would entertain partnering with an internet service provider or local government.

The demand for more broadband web networks was evident in August, when the federal government announced it had received requests for nearly $28 billion from groups that want to expand high-speed internet service in the United States. (See “Huge demand far exceeds broadband grants.”)

The total requests outstripped available broadband stimulus funds seven to one.

States, counties, Indian tribes, nonprofits, phone companies, libraries, colleges, universities, and others—2,200 requests in all—lined up in advance of the Aug. 20 deadline for the first round of broadband grants. The government has $4 billion in loans and grants initially available.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) last summer suggested the United States ranks 28th in the world in average internet connection speeds and is not making significant progress in building a faster network.

The CWA report said the average download speed in South Korea is 20.4 megabits per second (Mbps)—four times faster than the U.S. average of 5.1 Mbps.

Japan trails South Korea with an average of 15.8 Mbps, followed by Sweden at 12.8 Mbps and the Netherlands at 11.0 Mbps, the report said, adding that tests conducted by Speedmatters.org found the average U.S. download speed had improved by only nine-tenths of a megabit per second between 2008 and 2009.

“The U.S. has not made significant improvement in the speeds at which residents connect to the internet,” the report concluded. “Our nation continues to fall far behind other countries.”


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