Google is reportedly considering the launch of an alternative internet network.

If such plans come to fruition, it would be theoretically possible for the California-headquartered internet titan to block competitor websites and allow users to access only those sites that pay Google to be shown.

The hush-hush project is based on 'dark fiber' cables laid down across the US by web companies during the 1990s, but never used thanks to the crash of 2000.

In buying the dark fiber network Google would in effect acquire a ready-made internet matrix accessed through its Google Cube, a putative own-brand PC costing less than $100 (€63; £57).

An anonymous source quoted by The Times newspaper in the UK says: "We are in discussions with Google to provide content for their alternative internet service . . . As far as I'm aware they have been conducting negotiations with a number of other players in our marketplace to provide quality content to their users."

Google is zip-lipped about the report, save to parrot: "It's Google's policy not to comment on speculation concerning products before they are launched."

Data sourced from The Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff