Google Fiber: Ultra-Fast Internet

Category: Networking

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.
Google Fiber

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...

 
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Posted by on 31 Jul 2012


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Most recent comments on "Google Fiber: Ultra-Fast Internet"

(See all 23 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Russell in St Petersburg FL
31 Jul 2012

Ken,

Actually, I remember CP/M, 1 Meg hard drives! I think you are correct that although right now Google Fiber is faster than most users need, demand will change...


Posted by:

Cassio
31 Jul 2012

Here in Brazil, an average 2Mbps(download) residential internet service costs about $25. The maximum speed the connection can get in my neighborhood is 15Mbps for about $40(only internet, no TV of phone included).
My contract is for a 2Mbps connection, but that's only the maximum speed my connection can get. By law(and by contract), the company has to maintain only a fraction of that in order to fulfill the contract. My average connection speed oscilates between 600 and 800Kbps. My download speed never go past 180Kbps. That means that that 40 bucks 15Mbps isn't really a 40 bucks 15Mbps service.
In other words, I don't really need 1Gbps. Your quality 50Mbps connection for $100 is already a dream here.

Great newsletter. It's good to have a nice read once in a while.


Posted by:

Jim Ruby
31 Jul 2012

I wish we could get here in mn, but our town just barried fiber and it will be hbc as the provider and their prices are quite high compared to other connection options.


Posted by:

HopefulGrandma
31 Jul 2012

I wonder how Google will wiggle into areas that have monopolies. Charter is the only game in town in West Covina, CA, and while we do have their fastest speed, and they really try with their customer service, I think competition is healthy. Remember when you could only have one option for your phone? Also, if you're in an apartment, as we are, the fiber can only come to your wall; inside, most people don't have fiber, which will still somewhat limit what you get, right? Nevertheless, I'm cheering Google and think they should come out West. I'll bribe them with some lemonade and cookies.


Posted by:

Mike
31 Jul 2012

Isn't the gigE just google's local loop speed and ends up being tamped down by the speed of the rest of the internet?


Posted by:

Brian Larkin
31 Jul 2012

My $10 would be down as soon as the open the gate in DC!


Posted by:

Only Me
31 Jul 2012

I would grab it in a heartbeat! I live in a small town on Ore coast. Years ago GTE ran fiber to our mainframe, and updated the mainframe for which we paid with increased fees. They didn't run fiber around town. Harborside.com dialup was our ISP, and their server was two blocks from me. GTE ran a service line to Harborside.com. Verizon bought our area, and we bacame a cash cow; no upgrades. It took years to get DSL, which I first got through Harborside. Verizon also had DSL, but claimed it was not availaable to my neighgorhood. Go figure. I already had it through Harborside, which certainly used my Verizon phone lines. The first Verizon DSL was obtained by a home business located two blocks more distant from me along the same trunk line. I heard about it, and was still unable to get service; Verizon saying not available. On a tip I used another phone number and got DSL, the folks there laughing at my story. Verizon sold us to Frontier who has worked to improve service, and offers the tripple package. I have phone and DSL;no TV at my house. I won't pay to watch that left wing spin. DSL is now upgraded to 1000 and it is good, but tne next level is considerably more costly.
Comspan ran a fiber trunk down the alley behind my house, but their service is costly, and it is WIFI, which I don't want. They offer triple package, but it is costly. C'mon Google!


Posted by:

Marie
01 Aug 2012

I certainly wish it would've come to my home. There is no cable available to me and when I did have dial up it was excruciatingly slow due to the OLD phone lines. M. New Era, MI


Posted by:

salim
01 Aug 2012

our town in Loma Linda, CA, is, per capita, the most connected when it comes to fiber optics. I wonder if Google would like to explore the possibility of using the already laid down line by the city. I'm sure the city wouldn't mind, given this looks like a win-win..


Posted by:

Ernie
01 Aug 2012

I've gone from L/L Modem to DSL to Brodband.
I've come to the conclution that after a point, it dosn't help. You can only download as fast as the other end sends it. I feel some of the sites are still on phone lines. Or slowed down buy some ISP's.
Your's always seems pretty fast. Thanks for that, and the good advise / help.


Posted by:

Don Casebier
01 Aug 2012

I have frontiernet.net [DSL from Citizens Utilities]and the fastest I have ever received is 3.2 MBPS. Downloading is not bad but uploading takes forever. We have fiber optic cable running right through our little mountain town but it goes through. We do not benefit from it. The company that ran the cable went bankrupt but the cable is active and it runs through Burney Ca. along highway 299 east to Redding Ca. and from there to San Francisco, Ca. as well as to other Ca towns.
What good is fiber optic when it goes through your town but you can't connect. It caused a lot of grief to the citizens of our town and our county [Shasta] when it was lain.


Posted by:

JD Rosen
01 Aug 2012

Google Fiber, ...if it were any faster your email would have arrived yesterday and Groucho Marx would have delivered it.


Posted by:

Jim in Scotland
01 Aug 2012

My town in Scotland has one of the fastest internet access speeds in the area. Of course, being a nerd, I signed up for the fastest option and yes, it is truly remarkable for uploadinga and downloading files and music etc. BUT....... the surfing experience is not really improved as that is constrained by the service provided by the host of the web sites you are trying to access. So, if you need fast upload or download, the Google Fiber makes sense. But if you are just looking to improve your surfing experience, it may not give you what you want!!!!!


Posted by:

HomeBrew
01 Aug 2012

A couple of years ago prime minister Kevin Rudd Told us that super fast broadband was every Australians god given right,so he is now laying fibre to every town and city in oz Futhermore our Town is one of the 1st to have it I should be hooked up this month and its all free.And the landline goes through it as well no more monthly rental for the phone anymore,I will be starting off with the 25/5 plan 300gig for $75 a month


Posted by:

Steve Brooks
01 Aug 2012

I live in a "one-horse" town, oops I mean a one cable company alternative in rural PA. Plunking down $10 for a "soon to come service" would be a waste for me since not even Verizon FIOS is available in my community even though we have fiber optic cable in use by the one cable co alternative that provides our service. To expect speeds even close to what Verizon offers for similar optic service pricing would go off the price charts with the service my company offers! Ho-Hum, it is nice to see that others may benefit from being offered a "choice" in optic service providers!


Posted by:

Hira
01 Aug 2012

Thanks Bob for a nice article on Google fiber. Well, Google does offer phone service with Google Voice, so there may be no point in adding an extra phone service.

Thank you for all your great informative articles !!!


Posted by:

Ralph Bruechert
01 Aug 2012

The thought of gigabit service is enticing, but one must remember that ultimately the download speed is dependent on the server to which you are connected. I switched from Comcast to UVerse recently, and my download speed dropped from 6Mb to 3Mb. For all practical purposes, I could not see a difference in everyday surfing. Downloading books from audible.com took longer, but I expected that. I don't stream video (yet) but I'm sure that folks that do would embrace the high speed.


Posted by:

Ken Heikkila
01 Aug 2012

Here in the woods of South Central Wa I consider myself fortunate to get 1.5Mb DSL through Century Link lines. In fact I am fortunate when I do get it. Regularly drops to 300Kb & not surprisingly I get no rebate for those lost hours.


Posted by:

Terry Edmondson
03 Aug 2012

I was surprised to read this morning of this latest innovation that I had previously heard only a whisper of.
I have always found reformatting my hard drive and downloading the updates for the operating system a pain in the posterior. With those kind of download speeds it could almost become a routine maintenance task. Well done Google.


Posted by:

GM
14 Jan 2013

I live in the Kansas City area and have signed up for Goggle Fiber. While many have said it won't really speed up web surfing, it sure will be nice with Netflix and other streaming.

As for the comment about apartment builidings, they will run fiber right to you apartment. From there it will use the normal coax cable you probably have already wired within your apartment. Goggle must also get the permission of the apartment owner before installing in apartments.


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