For some time now Google has been flirting with the idea of providing internet access to consumers. It played an important role in the 700MHz wireless spectrum bid back in 2008, was part of the aborted municipal Wi-Fi bid for San Francisco with Earthlink, and operates a free Wi-Fi network near its campus in Mountain View. It was also a major investor in WiMAX provider Clearwire.
Now they seem to be getting a little more serious. The company announced that it's going to offer ultra-fast fiber broadband service on a trial basis "in a small number of trial locations across the United States." They are aiming to offer 1Gbps speeds at competitive prices to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people and basically see what happens when more developers get access to such speeds.
Google did not disclose locations, actual pricing or the time frame of when the high-speed broadband network is expected. However, keeping in line with its views on open access and net-neutrality, the company did say they will be opening the network up to other service providers and would not discriminate between different sorts of traffic carried by it.
This latest part might also serve as its strategy against any potential anti-trust concerns that may arise, you know, after Google "owns the pipes" through which you search the web, watch videos, make voice calls and access a ton other Google-owned products and services on a regular basis.