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Google preps launch of 1Gbps broadband network

Google is preparing to launch its 1 gigabit per second fiber-based broadband network in Kansas City.

Google will be launching its new fiber-based broadband network in Kansas City next week, according to a company blog post.

Google has set up a special page announcing the launch date of July 26. The company didn't provide further details, but on the Web site it says to check back at on July 26 for the full announcement. You can also sign on to the mailing list to be alerted when the announcement is made.

The blog GigaOm said in an item about the Google post that invitations had been sent out for a launch event next Thursday in Kansas City, Kan., where the network is being built. According to GigaOm the invitation reads, "We would like to invite you to a special announcement about Google Fiber and the next chapter of the Internet."

Google, which announced the project in February 2010, began construction of the network backbone in February. The company had said it expected to launch the network this summer.

The idea behind Google Fiber is for the company to build a commercial fiber-based high-speed broadband network that Google and others can use to test new business models and applications that need very fast connections -- upward of 1Gbps. Thousands of cities competed to be the home of the future network. And Kansas City won.

Now it looks like Google is ready to put the network into action. Earlier this summer a set-top box displaying the company's logo made it through the Federal Communications Commission's approval process. It's not known how much of the network has been built. In February, Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, said the company had begun construction of the network but that Google would initially build out the backbone and then later build the fiber directly to homes and businesses.

Lo described how Google plans to stretch the fiber optic backbone across "Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.," with the expectation of giving residents more than 100 times faster broadband connections than what most Americans experience today.

But building out this new network, which requires streets and other land to be dug up to lay the new fiber, takes time. And it could be many more months before everyone in the surrounding Kansas City area has access to the network.

"At first, we'll focus on building this solid fiber backbone," Lo said. "Then, as soon as we have an infrastructure that is up and running, we'll be able to connect Google Fiber into homes across Kansas City."

Google claims it has no intentions of entering the broadband market in a major way to compete with local providers. Instead, the company has said the network is merely a commercial test bed to see what applications and services are possible with 1Gbps speeds. Still, some believe Google has other motives for building the network.

GigaOm writer Stacey Higginbotham speculates that Google wants to gather data about the true cost of running services, like those offered by Google or Netflix, over broadband networks. Some broadband providers have complained for years that Internet companies, like Google, are getting a "free ride" on their networks. Google's own broadband network should give the company a clearer picture of what those costs truly are, Higginbotham speculates in her post.

Google has not said much about if or where it will deploy similar fiber networks. But there's been speculation that Google may also launch a Google Fiber network in some part of Europe.