Google is one step closer to implementing its ultra-high speed broadband network in select communities across the United States.

The Web search giant announced last week on its official blog that Stanford University in Northern California will serve as the beta test site for the network before expanding the Internet service to at least one more community elsewhere.

Stanford’s residential subdivision, a group of approximately 850 faculty- and staff-owned homes on campus, will be the first to experiment with Google’s Fiber for Communities project, which began earlier this year. The goal is to implement 1 Gbps fiber Internet — a service that’s 100 times faster than what’s typically available in America — to target communities across the country.

Google spokesman Dan Martin said the company chose Stanford for three reasons: the university’s openness to experimenting with new fiber technologies; the layout and small size of the residential neighborhoods; and its location just a few miles up the road from Google, which will make it easier for engineers to monitor progress.

After beta testing is done, Google hopes to eventually serve 50,000 to 500,000 people in other communities, which earlier this year were asked to state their case for why Google should mark their city on its map.

Among the most creative endeavors of the 1,100 responses: mayors swimming with sharks, cities changing their names and others creating spoof videos for YouTube.

“We were excited to see that kind of enthusiasm. There’s a real hunger for better and faster Internet access,” Martin said. Google hasn’t made any decisions yet, he said, but plans to announce a decision by the end of this year.

Local resources will play a major role in which communities are chosen. Some factors include level of community support, weather conditions, approved construction methods, and broadband availability and speeds that are already offered to users within a community.

Lauren Katims Nadeau  | 

Lauren Katims previously served as a staff writer and contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.