Imagine sitting in a rural health clinic, streaming three-dimensional medical imaging over the web and discussing a unique condition with a specialist in New York. Or downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes. Or collaborating with classmates around the world while watching live 3-D video of a university lecture.

Sounds like an advertisement for a fibre-based ISP, NBN or existing infrastructure operator, doesn’t it? Well, if that’s what you thought, you’d be wrong. It’s the opening gambit on Google’s official blog site announcing the company’s foray into ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States.

And that’s the sort of news that should send a shudder down the spine of every network provider in the world. The blog goes on say, “We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.” More shuddering?

Why would Google want to build out its own fibre network? Probably because it can and it knows only too well that success in this area comes with content and applications, something it has copious amounts of already. The press release, err, I mean blog, goes on to say:

“Our goal is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone. Here are some specific things that we have in mind:

  • Next generation apps: We want to see what developers and users can do with ultra high-speeds, whether it’s creating new bandwidth-intensive “killer apps” and services, or other uses we can’t yet imagine.
  • New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.
  • Openness and choice: We’ll operate an “open access” network, giving users the choice of multiple service providers. And consistent with our past advocacy, we’ll manage our network in an open, non-discriminatory and transparent way.”

Funny, I thought that’s what the existing telco infrastructure providers and national broadband networks were trying to do. Let’s not forget Google’s experimental WiFi network in Mountain View, the purpose of which is “to experiment and learn from”.

Google has also been aggressively addressing the mobile segment in recent months with the release of the Nexus One Android based handset, the purchase of AdMob and the unveiling of Buzz, a desktop/mobile social networking service as well as reports that it would be bidding for wireless spectrum in India.  Tie all of this in with the plethora of applications Google already offers online it’s not hard to see a plan for total domination emerging.

Google is becoming a behemoth to be reckoned with. The traditional telco operator and CSP world’s may not be able to put up much of a fight, either. If they do they could simply be bought out. There are very few companies in the world with the liquidity, continuous revenue stream and acquisition power that Google has. This may be the agent of change we least expected, but most likely to succeed.