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In case you missed it, the search giant is set to create an “experimental fibre network” to serve half a million US homes. And, in news that’ll gladden the hearts of heavy web users everywhere, it’ll offer staggeringly fast download speeds of up to 1Gb and will be pitched at “competitive prices”.

Product managers at Google Minnie Ingersola and James Kelly stated that the experiment is in part an exercise in looking at new ways of implementing fibre optic broadband network. But they were most effusive/evangelical about laying the foundations for democratizing super-fast web access.

See James Kelly expound on Google's plans here:

In an official blog post, they stated: "We're planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States

"Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone.”

Let’s put that 1Gb headline speed in context. Virgin Media’s current fibre optic broadband offering features a top speed of up to 50Mb. Meanwhile, even Korea and Japan, which are home to the world’s fastest commercially available broadband services, the average speeds are 14.6Mb and 7.9Mb respectively.

So what does Google’s announcement that mean for consumers? Well naturally you’ll be able to download entire series of TV opuses in a matter of seconds. And of course the ping problems that blight online gaming will be gone forever. But, in truth, Virgin Media’s service can already deliver that kind of enhanced internet experience.

Where the network really has the potential to engender change is the platform that it’ll provide for developers to create next-generation applications and services. What these will be, however, even the Google chaps admit they probably “can’t yet imagine”.

One thing we can definitely look forward to is a new kind of medicare provision, with Google inviting us to imagine "sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York”. But it’s the potential for truly immersive, nigh-on limitless virtual worlds that’s got me in a tizz. They’d make the already lush visuals likes of Warcraft look like Nolan Bushnell’s Computer Space.

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