Google to build and test high-speed network in campus faculty/staff housing subdivision; will present its plan at a campus meeting Nov. 11

Stanford has reached an agreement with Google to build an ultra-high-speed broadband network within the university's faculty/staff housing subdivision. Through this trial, Google plans to offer Internet speeds up to 1 gigabit per second – more than 100 times faster than what most people have access to today. The company plans to start breaking ground in early 2011.

Google is funding the construction of the network, which will be available to the 850 private homes and condominiums on the main campus that are owned primarily by Stanford faculty. While the details are still pending, homeowners will have the opportunity to connect to Google's fiber-optic network or stick with their current Internet providers. The service will be free for the first year after a one-time installation fee, according to James Sweeney, president of the board of the Stanford Campus Residential Leaseholders (SCRL). Google says its pricing for subsequent years will be competitive.

Stanford's willingness to allow Google to experiment with new fiber technologies on its streets was a plus for this partnership.

"The layout of the residential neighborhoods and small number of homes make it a good fit for a beta deployment. And its location – just a few miles up the road from Google – will make it easier for our engineers to monitor progress," the company said in an announcement Thursday.

Google added that the Stanford trial is completely separate from its project to build and test ultra-high-speed broadband networks in a small number of American cities. The community selection process for that program, called Google Fiber, is ongoing, and the selected community or communities will be announced by the end of the year. Google's ultimate goal is to build a network that serves at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Three representatives from Google presented the Stanford plan to the SCRL board Wednesday evening.

"The SCRL board of directors was very positive about the proposal," said Sweeney. He said board members had lots of questions about the depth of the Google commitment, and also about the process of educating homeowners about the opportunities this new level of connectivity would present. "People were really excited to be part of this pilot that would put us on the absolute cutting edge of Internet connectivity. And we're very pleased to work with Google in this way," Sweeney added.

Sweeney said that Google will send out informational materials to homeowners in the coming days and will return to give a more complete presentation to the campus community on Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in Cubberley Auditorium.