Wireless & Fiber Don't Mix for Google

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) won't be experimenting with broadband wireless while it tinkers with a super-fast fiber-to-the-home network in select towns in the U.S.

The company announced Wednesday that it wants to work with municipalities to deploy fiber that will cover between 50,000 and 500,000 people. The networks will allow Google to experiment with new high-speed Internet services. (See Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH.) Unstrung double-checked with Google to see if a fast wireless overlay could be deployed as part of the experiment. "Google's focused on fiber-to-home right now and has no current plans for additional deployments," a spokeswoman for the company told us in an email reply to questions Wednesday.

Google has tended to back wireless developments that could potentially boost Internet usage. To wit, the company has a municipal WiFi network operating in Mountain View, Calif.; it has put up money to help Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) deploy WiMax; and it bid on the 700MHz auctions to force "open" conditions on a chunk of the spectrum. The firm has also dived headfirst into the mobile operating system business with Android and the Nexus One phone.

For the moment, however, this latest push to get fast Internet out in the U.S. is purely focused on wired connections. The size and scope of the project outlined also suggests that the network will only cover a mid-sized American city even if Google hits the upper limit of the coverage number it is laying out.

For instance, the city of Long Beach in California has a population of just over 460,000. The numbers suggest that networks are more likely to be rolled out in select neighborhoods in cities rather than attempting to cover an entire metropolitan area.

Google is still at the stage of soliciting interest from U.S. cities at the moment so these kinds of details are likely to be hashed out over time. The search giant hasn't even yet announced what technology it will use for the new network.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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