Google just announced its foray in the broadband network game. They are to begin a trial run of gigabit fiber optic networks for a lucky 50,000 (or 500,000 they aren't sure yet). This comes on the heels of the FCC's push to bring America up to speed with the rest of the world. According to a CNET article (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13578_3-10317118-38.html), the US lags behind twenty seven other countries when it comes to internet speeds. That is pathetic for the country that founded the internet, as well as the graphical web browser (shout out to MOSAIC and NCSA).
The FCC apparently is aiming to bring 100 megabit speed internet to the most everyone, which would be a significant increase over the average of 3.9 megabits that the country sees now (http://www.pcworld.com/article/189549/fcc_wants_highspeed_internet_for_t...). The FCC also is focusing on the needy, as they are trying to up the speeds for the E-Rate Program and the Rural Telemedicine Program. The goal is to bring high speed internet to schools and libraries (ERP) and to bring those same speed increases to a network of rural medical clinics, offices, and hospitals (RTP).
Google plans on rolling out their network sometime soon, in attempts to bring gigabit networks to everyday users. It seems to be their belief that we as consumers are missing out on applications that could be the future, solely because of their bandwith needs.
One place where the FCC and Google agree, however, is in pricing. Both entities believe that as it currently stands, we are getting taken advantage of by ISPs for broadband access. Google said they aimed to keep pricing "competitive," which hopefully makes ISPs feel like they need to up their standards. The FCC agrees, with one major aspect of their broadband plan "lowering the cost of both wired and wireless broadband." Hopefully with the backing of the FCC and the pushing of Google, we can get to Japan's level, where the average connection speed is right around 60 megbits per second.
Keep in mind this one caveat though, the FCC still has not specified how it expects to pull off this plan and bring the internet to everyone. This means we could very well see a dumbed down version of this plan by the time it is actually enacted. Here's to hoping that not the case.