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Google aims to provide broadband in 34 more cities

SAN FRANCISCO — Google is planning to offer high-speed Internet service in 34 more cities scattered across eight states in the company's boldest challenge yet to cable and telecommunications providers.

The ambitious expansion announced Wednesday targets Arizona, California, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas and Utah. The markets span some of the largest cities in the U.S. They include: Atlanta, San Jose, Calif., Phoenix; San Antonio; Portland, Ore. and Salt Lake City. The company also hopes to bring the Internet service, called "Google Fiber," to its hometown of Mountain View, Calif.

The blueprint is tentative because Google Inc. needs to work out logistics with government leaders in the communities where it hopes to build the networks needed to deliver its service. The company hopes to provide updates by the end of the year.

The plans are the clearest sign yet that Google, already the Internet's most powerful Internet company, intends to become a bigger player in providing access to the Internet, too.

Google's ownership of some the Internet's most lucrative advertising networks and heavily trafficked services such its YouTube video site gives the company a powerful incentive to make it more affordable and enjoyable to spend time online. The company is hoping it can make more money from ads and other services if faster connections and a proliferation of computing devices can make the Internet even more addictive than it already is for tens of millions of people.

With Google Fiber, people can surf the Internet at a speed of one gigabit per second, up to 100 times faster than existing broadband services. Prices for the service are comparable or below what most households already pay.

Launched as an experimental project in 2010, Google Fiber is only available in three cities so far: Kansas City, Kan.; Kansas City, Mo. and Provo, Utah. It's coming to Austin, Texas sometime this year.

The service charges about $70 per month for just high-speed Internet service in the two Kansas City markets. A package that bundles the Internet service with more than 100 high-definition television channels costs about $120 per month.

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