A report released this week by Arbor Networks states that Google now boasts a network bigger than all but two of the world’s ISPs. Don’t say you weren’t warned!

The search giant looks like it’s just one step away from becoming an ISP itself. If it were, hypothetically speaking of course, it would now be the fastest growing one in the world and the third largest globally. The two leaders carry substantial volumes of Google transit themselves.

More than half of its own traffic over its own network is sent directly from its own servers to the world’s consumer ISPs.  So, what’s stopping it from offering internet plans direct to consumers and cutting out the middleman altogether?

Google has also spent billions over the past several years building data centers all over the world and has acquired capacity on major international fibre links. When Google recently announced it was taking the next step by building an experimental fibre-to-the-home network in parts of the USA, servicing initially between 50,000 and 500,000 homes with staggering 1Gbps speed, it was swamped by under-serviced communities asking to be next in the rollout.

When you throw into the equation the success of GMail, the popularity of Google Voice (which successfully bypasses existing voice operators) and the number of Cloud Services, like Google Docs, already being offered then we see the epitome of what telcos are now trying to become.  Google is already there.

No wonder Google CEO, Eric Schmidt, was heckled by telco representatives at the recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, who feared that Google was increasingly competing with them not only on the infrastructure level, but also by selling its mobile phone, the Nexus One, directly to consumers online.

Schmidt stressed the Google was purely experimenting in an effort to see what was required to bring networks up to 1Gbps, which could pave the way for more exciting applications and convince telcos to upgrade their networks.

Analysts aren’t buying that either and Google’s push into infrastructure will inevitably add to fears surrounding its overwhelming corporate power, and increase regulatory heat on the company.

Is it time for telcos and ISPs to panic? Probably not, but they should not underestimate the financial and purchasing power Googles wields with its established and highly profitable cash-generating search core. Nothing, it seems, is impossible for Google.

Are you afraid yet?