NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Superfast Net connections. Civil liberties in China. Carbon neutrality. What's next for Google ( GOOG)? Digitization of medical records? Taxation reform? A cure for baldness? Google's Gigabit experiment to build limited fiber optic networks capable of 100-times faster Internet speeds has a familiar, sunny, change-the-world sweep to it. Like many of Google's well-intended strategies, the announcement Wednesday is as much a challenge to naysayers as it is an internal goal for Googlers far and wide.
Fiber optic networks are clearly the domain of telco and cable giants like AT&T ( T), Verizon ( VZ), Comcast ( CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable ( TWC). And the referees in this skirmish are regulators at the Federal Communications Commission. To all of them, Google just said, 'Let's not get comfy.' The last time Google issued a dare to the telecom status quo was in 2007. Google bid $4.6 billion on federal air wave licenses under the condition that the winner of the auction would be required to keep the networks open to all qualified devices. The move was an attempt to loosen big phone's grip on the features and applications that can be developed for mobile devices. To follow through, Google introduced its own Android-powered phone that it sells directly to consumers. Ground breaking? Yes. Earth-shaking? Not quite. It's no Apple ( AAPL) iPhone, let's say. Google's Gigabit experiment is similar to the open wireless push in that it hopes to prod development of new services that apparently have been thwarted by sluggish Web access.