Google Fiber: Ultra-Fast Internet
How would you like an Internet connection that's 100 times faster than the 'high-speed' connection you have now? Google Fiber is an experiment in providing 'Gigabit Internet' service over fiber-optic lines to residential users, and it blows away anything that your cable or telephone company can offer. Read on to learn more about Google Fiber...
What is Google Fiber, and Where Can I Get It?
Residents of the Kansas City area can now start signing up for one-gigabit Internet access and television service for delivery starting September 9, 2012. Thank Google Fiber, the search giant's long-awaited experiment in ultra-fast and affordable broadband.
More than two years ago, Google asked communities across the U.S. whether they wanted faster, cheaper Internet and cable TV. Unsurprisingly, over 1,100 municipalities clamored for it. Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) "won us over with your enthusiasm for better, faster Web connections," said the company. Google has been quietly laying fiber optic cable since then. Now, there's going to be a local competition to see which neighborhoods want to get connected first.
From now until September 9, residents can pre-register for Google Fiber service by submitting their names and addresses, and paying a $10 fee. The local "fiberhoods" that pre-register the highest percentage of their residents will get Google Fiber first. If enough residents in a fiberhood sign up, Google will connect its community buildings (libraries, schools, hospitals, etc.) for free.
Three services options are available. Gigabit Internet plus television will cost $120 per month. Gig-Internet alone will cost $70. This being a Google product, there's even a free option: a 5 Mbps Internet connection. (The average U. S. download speed is 5.8 Mbps.) There's a $300 installation fee for the free service, but it can be paid in $25 monthly installments.
Google Fiber, Wherefore Art Thou?
Why is Google doing this? Google says the project is a showcase for the benefits of gig-Internet, and a test bed for new applications that ultra-high speeds can enable. YouTube, a Google property, will obviously benefit from superior delivery of video without all the "buffering" pauses. To a certain degree, the faster users can surf the Web, the more ads Google can show them. Online backups will be greatly improved and sped up.
How fast is Google's 1-gigabit/sec connection? It should (in theory) allow you to upload or download one gigaBYTE in 8 seconds. Unlike almost every other high-speed Internet service, the upload speed is not a fraction of the download speed. At that rate, you could backup an entire 500GB hard drive to a cloud service such as Mozy or Carbonite in just over an hour. Set that to run overnight, and full daily backups become a reality. You could download a 2-hour HD-quality movie in about 3 seconds! Google Docs and other cloud-based services will become more practical. Next-generation games are also expected; perhaps Google will get into that business, too.
What Does Google Fiber TV Offer?
Buyers of the Google Internet-plus-TV package will receive a Nexus 7 tablet that can be used as a remote control, and 2 TB of cloud storage. Internet-only buyers get 1 TB of cloud storage.
The TV channel lineup is not much to start with. It includes Nickelodeon, Discovery, Bravo, Starz and Showtime, as well as many other cable channels, but is missing AMC, HBO, CNN, Fox News and ESPN. Google says the menu of channels will be expanded over time. With Google Fiber TV, you get a DVR with 2TB of memory which can record up to eight shows simultaneously. That's enough memory to record about 200 hours of HD programming. (And for reference, over 12X times the storage in the DVR from Verizon FIOS TV.)
You might have noticed that I didn't mention anything about phone service. That's because Google Fiber is just Internet and TV. So there's no "triple play" option for Internet, TV and phone service, like most high-speed providers offer. You'll have to get phone service from the phone company, or add VOIP (voice over Internet) phone service. See my related article Can VoIP Replace Your Landline? for more info on VOIP phone service options.
Yes, You ARE Still in Kansas...
It will be tough for Google Fiber will go nationwide. The cost of deploying fiber is staggering; Verizon has spent $23 billion on FIOS, its limited-coverage fiber-to-the-home venture, and has halted expansion to new communities because it's not been profitable. The Google Fiber experiment in Kansas is not likely to spread to the Land of Oz, India, or even other states in the USA, any time soon.
But Google Fiber may goad incumbents (both cable and fiber) into improving Internet speed, and set a low "standard" for prices with their free 5Mbps service. Verizon charges $70/month for 15 Mbps (less than 2 percent of Google Fiber's 1 gigabit/sec speed). Bundled plans can be much cheaper, though. My 50Mb FIOS connection, which includes phone and TV service, runs about $100/month.
A question that comes to my mind is how much speed do you really need? Most people who surf the net, check their email, update their Facebook page, and watch an occasional video on YouTube don't need anything close to a 1Gb/sec connection. That's 200 times faster than a typical 5Mb/sec connection that most people perceive as pretty darned fast. And it makes me wonder what's to stop someone in Kansas from signing up for Google Fiber, and then sharing the connection via wifi with 50 or 100 neighbors?
It would be easy to dismiss Google Fiber as just a quixotic experiment conducted by a company that has too much money to burn. But only time will tell. Your thoughts are welcome -- post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 31 Jul 2012
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved