Google Fiber Is Official; Free Broadband Up To 5 Mbps, Or Pay For Symmetrical 1 Gbps

from the disruptive... dept

Google officially announced the details of its fiber service in Kansas City today. If you don’t remember, after doing a nationwide search, Google chose Kansas City (both the Kansas and the Missouri ones) as a sort of testbed. For years, we’ve pointed out that the real problem in broadband is the lack of competition. It’s that lack of competition that leads companies like Verizon to stop investing in fiber networks, and companies like Comcast to only offer serious broadband where its competing with fiber. Competition is the key, and sadly, it’s lacking in most places.

The Google setup was intriguing in that it was a true new entrant in the market, and one that seemed to acknowledge that what was most important wasn’t appeasing the short term thinking on Wall Street that pushes against faster speeds and more innovation (too expensive!). Instead, it was going to see what it could do to increase speeds and decrease limits — and now we’ve seen a glimpse of what that looks like with the official details — many of which probably have the traditional broadband players quite annoyed.

First up, there’s an oddity: to actually do the last bits of the buildout, Google is asking residents to sign up, and the neighborhoods with the greatest interest will get the finished buildout first (which makes sense). Then there are two bits that are somewhat disruptive: first, you can get broadband for free, if you take the package that gives you speeds up to 5 Mbps. That may not seem that high, but as Google points out, that’s about the average speed out there (and, frankly, it’s more than twice the speed of the broadband I get at my house, smack dab in the middle of Silicon Valley). You do have to pay for the installation, which is $300 (either upfront or in twelve monthly installments at $25). Then it’s free service for at least the next seven years.

The second disruptive bit is that the full 1 Gbps offering only costs $70 per month (or $120 per month if you include TV) — way lower than most competing offerings — and the 1 Gbps is symmetrical meaning upstream and downstream. Broadband providers have long assumed that people are content consumers more than they are content creators, and thus they stressed the downstream bandwidth, while limiting upstream. Google seems to be making the bet that people can make use of that bandwidth in the other direction as well, and that should be quite interesting to see.

In some ways, this reminds me (a bit) of when Google launched Gmail and offered everyone 1 gig of storage. At the time, most competing services were in the range of 10 megs of storage before you had to pay. Google basically changed that market overnight — so much so that many people thought it was an April Fools joke (it was launched on April 1). That won’t happen here, obviously, because the service is just limited to Kansas City, but it still is setting the bar for what’s possible.

There is one serious disappointment here, however. When Google announced this project, it had promised that it would allow competing services on its network. As we wrote about at the time, a Google VP said:

“We (sic) definitely inviting the Comcasts, the AT&T service providers to work with us on our network, and to provide their service offering on top of our pipe — we’re definitely planning on doing that. Our general attitude has been that there’s plenty of room for innovation right now in the broadband space, and it’s great what the cable companies are doing, upgrading to DOCSIS 3.0, but no one company has a monopoly on innovation. We’re looking for other service providers to be able to come in and offer their service on top of our network so that residents have a choice when they open up their accounts. They get the connection from us, and then they have a choice as to who they subscribe to.”

A few months ago there were some rumors making the rounds that Google had moved away from this plan — and there was no mention of it in today’s announcement at all. That doesn’t mean Google won’t eventually go there — and it’s possible that no other service provider wanted to “legitimize” Google’s service this way, but it definitely would be nicer if Google also used this testbed to prove that there’s value in competition at the service level, rather than just at the infrastructure level.

Either way, people living in Kansas City should be pretty damn happy right now…

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Comments on “Google Fiber Is Official; Free Broadband Up To 5 Mbps, Or Pay For Symmetrical 1 Gbps”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What we need to do is protest our corrupt government and all the thugs in office for passing so many anti-competitive laws. What’s happening in the U.S. broadband and cable market is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!!!!! The consumers are being nickled and dimmed in exchange for terrible and slow service plagued with restrictions and limitations all because self interested politicians want campaign contributions and revolving door favors. We, as a population, should not tolerate this oppression. We should aggressively protest.

Anonymous Coward says:

Does Google then own all of your data?

Seems like this is a way for Google to get access to all of your internet traffic, not just your visits to Google properties.

Google has enough info on me already and there is no reason to trust them with it.

That ‘free’ service is not free, its $300 for 7 years. And of course then you are the product, just like here on td.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

What really is the difference between them giving all of their traffic to Google vs Comcast to snoop? Should Comcast also be paying them? If so, it looks like Google is paying a much better price than Comcast is.

If you have a real complaint, state it. If your complaint is that ISPs can snoop on your traffic, state that. If your complaint is that Google is somehow different than Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, Time Warner, etc, state that difference. If your complaint is merely that now Google gets to do what others were doing but at a lower price for the consumer, I apologize for the complete lack of sympathy from me for your apparent cause.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

So you pay a $300 install charge, whoop de doo. I just paid $20 for them to process my DSL move, which they didn’t get right till many hours on the phone and 3 techs later. I will then pay $50 a month for 12mb/768k. Even with the promotion of $20 a month for the first year, I will pay $240. Yeah I am sure the citizens of Kansas City are just bemoaning that damn Google.

As for Google owning your data, they won’t own it any more than any other ISP.

So lets recap, I can pay $300, either upfront or over 12 months with no charge for splitting it, for 7 years of service, or pay $120 a month and get Google Gig Fiber and TV with a 8 tuner dvr with 2TB storage and a Nexus Tablet with no install fee. Oh yeah this is just a terrible deal all around, no matter how you choose. How dare Google FORCE this upon those poor citizens. Also I am sure Google will not enforce the Data Cap like the do on cable[between 50gigs(Idaho) and 250 gigs(Washington) with a $15 per gig overage(Idaho again) ].

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

“As for Google owning your data, they won’t own it any more than any other ISP.”

I guess that you do not understand the Google business model. You get free service in exchange for targeted advertising. Its the same thing here on td.

I don’t use search, email and a bunch of other services from my ISP, so my ISP does not have the same reach into my personal affairs that Google would as my ISP, search provider and email provider.

If you like wholesale spying then great, go for it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Does Google then own all of your data?

How does that solve google getting access to my search results when I use google to search?

How does that stop google from reading my email when I use email?

Sure, I could use a VPN service or tor. How many hoops should I have to jump through to maintain my privacy?

Google can keep their spyware.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Does Google then own all of your data?

You’re too stupid to educate others, especially those here. Go talk to kindergarteners and you may look smart misleading them into your lies, but the people here laugh at your stupidity, both in law (probably your specialty) and especially at your tech. Corporate shills have proven themselves stupid over and over and over, they say dumb things and even corporate lawyer shills have proven that they no nothing about their own field of interest as they have been badly refuted and humiliated by others here from other fields.

You’re not worth $100/h you dumb shill, whoever pays you minimum wage is getting scammed.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Does Google then own all of your data?

If you don’t like Google looking at your emails, don’t use gmail. Microsoft had ads about that. Maybe you should to some other provider if the one you have is doing something you don’t like, especially since other providers are explicitly differentiating on that exact point.

There are all sorts of ways to keep Google from linking your search results to them. For starters, try another search engine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Does Google then own all of your data?

You think AT&T and Comcast and Verizon and all the others don’t do this, too? Are you living under a rock, or something? Please.

Besides, it’s $396/year plus taxes to have that same 5Mbps on cable. Now multiply that by 7 years. (It’s $2,772.) Simple math tells me that you can’t think past your anti-Google bias and take simple precautions of your own.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Does Google then own all of your data?

“How does that solve google getting access to my search results when I use google to search?”

Don’t use Google, use Microsoft search. Guess what? They do the same thing. So why single out Google?

“How does that stop google from reading my email when I use email?”

What about Microsoft? They do the same thing, at least to the same extent as Google. So why single out Google?

I know, because they compete and competition isn’t good for your business model.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

“You get free service in exchange for targeted advertising.”

That’s true of every service provider including Microsoft. Why don’t you rant about them? Why only Google. Why not every service provider that does the same thing?

“I don’t use search, email and a bunch of other services from my ISP, so my ISP does not have the same reach into my personal affairs that Google would as my ISP”

First of all no one is forcing you to use Google’s email, search, etc… That’s voluntary. You can use someone else’s services.

Secondly, you don’t know what you are talking about. Google as your ISP would have about the same reach that your current ISP has (with the exception of information that you encrypt in transit to Google). So why single out Google? and why make things up by accusing them of being more intrusive than your current ISP. You don’t know that.

Thirdly, you said “Google can keep their spyware” in reference to Google search and (Google) email. This suggests that you don’t use their services. But you just said “I don’t use search, email and a bunch of other services from my ISP, so my ISP does not have the same reach into my personal affairs that Google would as my ISP” suggesting that you do.

So which is it? Can’t go two paragraphs without contradicting yourself? I know, you’re just shilling against Google and saying whatever you can to criticize them with no intent to formulate a valid criticism.

If you don’t want Google’s broadband then find another broadband provider. No one is forcing you to use them.

and to the extent that Google does benefit from anti-competitive laws (ie: rights of way) that effectively keep out competitors, I absolutely agree that such laws need to go. Those are unacceptable. I don’t mind Google getting a temporary monopoly for absolutely no more than five years over the infrastructure that they built out of their own private money (with no extensions no matter what), to make back their investment, but no one should ever benefit from anti-competitive laws that hinder both the ability of competitors to build new infrastructure and to use existing infrastructure. That’s something we do need to take up with our government and the artificial lack of competition is a valid criticism that you seem to posses and that we can agree on. That’s also something that’s commonly criticized here on Techdirt.

Hothmonster says:

Re: Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

“I don’t use search, email and a bunch of other services from my ISP, so my ISP does not have the same reach into my personal affairs that Google would as my ISP, search provider and email provider.”

So your problem is you won’t use them as an ISP because you can’t live without their mail, search and other services? Sure one company can’t have all that information on you so youd rather pay comcast than give up your gmail?

MrWilson says:

Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

I’ve still never seen any actual evidence, anecdote or otherwise, of the consequences of Google’s supposed data gathering. A lot of their data gathering is anonymous and everything else seems opt-in or is blockable (i.e. I don’t have a public Google profile because I haven’t turned it on and I can turn off their targeted ads and I can tell them not to track me).

Do you have any news articles from non-biased sources that show exactly what is wrong with Google having so much data on an individual. Cory Doctorow wrote a humorous yet ominous story called Scroogled that was entirely speculative in a worst-case scenario kind of future, but I haven’t actually seen any “see, this is why you don’t let Google have data on you!” stories. Where’s the story about the person who was stalked and murdered by the crazy Google employee? Where’s the story about the people who lost their jobs because Google gave private info to their employers about the websites they visit?

It just seems like the complaints against Google are all just FUD. I’d trust my data less to the likes of Microsoft or Apple.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

This is an interesting point. I suppose that we can’t say exactly what info google has on an individual or what they might do with it – that is the problem.

I can lay on a bed of nails and have them not puncture my skin, does that mean that is is safe or a good idea?

Ven says:

Re: Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

We hear all the time about one government agency or another that collected a huge database on it’s citizens and then didn’t secure it. Or allowed an employee use it for a personal and malicious use. It seems like ever year there is another state or federal agency that leaves a social security database in a web accessible database. And after they are exposed they go and sue, or worse yet criminal charge, the people that told them that they were doing it wrong.

And what about Google? Well they tell you what they collect, they even tell you what they have figured out about you from that data. You can even opt out of data collection, or edit Google’s guesses about you. When they collect more than they intended to they even call themselves out and admit it instead of sweeping it under a rug.

We may not know the exact data Google knows about us, but I know far more about what Google knows about me than what the FBI knows about me. (I do have an FBI file, my current job required a federal background check.)

Honestly worrying about Google’s data collection is a bit like asking to have cancer research funds diverted to find a cure for the common cold.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

When I had comcast cable internet installed, the installation cost me 150 buck (had to have a new wire ran from the poll), plus 80 dollars a month.

300 bucks to have a fiber cable ran to my home, with free internet access for 6 years would be a freakin steal, esp considering that’s what comcast is charging per month for their 350 mbps fiber option, on top of whatever they will charge for installation.

Bibbu says:

Re: Does Google then own all of your data?

you’re dumb as a rock,

300$ is for the installation of fiber to your home/wireless router/ media fiber converter not the internet itself. sounds pretty damn reasonable to me.

and any IPS can get access your internet traffic, if you want to keep it private then dont use the internet and move back to the stoneage

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Telcos will be wiped out by competitors they just don’t know how to work the market as others do, all they are doing is making very difficult but not impossible for others to do things and when others break that barrier it will be people who truly can compete, they are creating their own worst nightmare.

Just like the MAFIAAtards and Co. are going down hard too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Jesus Christ! I’m moving. Tunnen don’t feel bad I’m paying 140$ a month for 50/5 mbps.. With 1/1 gbps I could call my server up and tell them to fuck off I’m hosting it myself.

Really I’d rather Google own my data than Comcast or one of the others. I mean they’re the worlds biggest warez search engine lol kinda baidu in China lol.

Zos (profile) says:

Damn it google, Take My Money!

I’m on an emotional roller coaster with my google overlords, first they decide to kkill off my igoogle homepage, now they roll out something so awesome and so needed.

Still and all, on the whole, i trust them more than any other option, their interests and mine coincide (a big fat cheap data pipe) securing and encrypting my data is MY responsibility.

If you don’t want anyone to have your data, don’t leave it lying around mucking up the place.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Or, rather, expect self interested politicians to complain about how more anti-competitive laws must be passed so that they can receive more campaign contributions and revolving door favors and how the public should exclusively serve their personal interests.

I’m sick and tired of anti-competitive laws.

Abolish IP!!! Abolish govt established broadcasting, cableco, and taxi cab monopolies. Abolish ALL anti-competitive laws. These laws are purely self serving and we must aggressively demand their abolition in masses. We must tell the government that their personal interests aren’t important and they must serve the public interest or get out of office. We should not tolerate purely self serving laws. I’m sick and tired of it.

Ben S (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Politician Grandstanding

That’s exactly what’s happening here though. Google creates the service, politician’s talk about how awesome it is. The point Pjerky was making was that if they make such a big deal about how great this will be, there is no need for concern that they’ll step in to stop this from happening.

Pjerky (profile) says:

Too bad most of it is in neighborhoods most don't want to live in

I was born and raised in the Kansas City area. I currently live in a suburb on the Kansas side. Currently a lot of us are very very excited that Google is in town and making huge waves against the entrenched providers like Time Warner, Comcast, SureWest, and AT&T. This competition will be great…

The only problem is that the vast majority of the areas covered by this project right now are areas that most middle class people just don’t want to live in due to crime and poverty. That said there are a few significant areas that look like they are covered. This includes the revitalized downtown and Cross Roads areas, The Plaza, Waldo, and I believe maybe even the River Market area.

I think in those areas Google Fiber will thrive. But I think Google Fiber would take off even more if they extended a bit further southwest on the Kansas side into Johnson County. This county is arguably one of the richest in the nation per capita. I will admit that I do live in this county, so I am a bit biased. But it has a lot more people with the money to spend and a high population density.

None the less, we are very excited to have this service here. Especially with all the fancy new tech and speeds. We have been treated very poorly by the incumbent ISPs and it is time that we had some real competition to spur them into treating us like customers instead of cash cows. I believe that at least 70-80% of the people I know would use Google Fiber over any of the other providers here.

Another positive, the areas that they are building in are rich with businesses, schools, hospitals, police, and other organizations that would greatly benefit from this service. Especially the public ones that would get the service for free. You can’t beat that. Our schools in KC need all the help they can get.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Too bad most of it is in neighborhoods most don't want to live in

That. I’m not even in the US but it’s refreshing to see you guys getting freedom from your shitty ISPs. Mike has said enough times, competition is the key.

You don’t need to offer 1Gbps you can simply offer a connection that provides 100% of its capacity anytime with less downtime than the competition. Ppl will pay more for that type of warranty. Offer a promotion, less speed but with Netflix included, spotify, whatever. There are tons of ways to appeal to the consumer.

Mystic5523 (profile) says:

Re: Too bad most of it is in neighborhoods most don't want to live in

That’s the nice thing about the way they’re doing the roll out. As communities step up and buy votes they’ll start creeping towards JoCo. I know that Rivermarket wasn’t included in he initial coverage area, but my friends that live there and their neighbors as of 10pm last night they only need 5 more people in Riverside to sign up and then they would be in the next stage of the roll out. So as cities like Olathe and Shawnee and other suburbs start gaining interest, we should start seeing Fiber availability over the next year or two.

Ryan says:

Re: Too bad most of it is in neighborhoods most don't want to live in

I also live in JoCo, and while everyone here is excited we’re also anxious to get coverage moved down here as well.

I would imagine south of the Plaza isn’t covered at first simply for the same reason every Big New Thing is built in Wyandotte or a crime-ridden district of Missouri or something – the government keeps trying to even the odds and so structures incentives specifically to build away from Overland Park, Olathe, Prairie Village, etc.

If they actually let businesses build where the money is, the entire city would be that much more prosperous (and we’d have at least a hockey team without a doubt). Instead, they play games. Nevertheless, it’s pretty fun that a company is actually trying to do something innovative despite legacy companies’ and regulation’s best efforts…and that place is Kansas City, KS.

Chargone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

actually, that’s probably the second most important toe (and third most important body part if you ignore the whole ‘must be connected to everything else to work’ side of things) for staying balanced under less than perfect conditions. (the Big toe coming immediately before it and the ankle coming before that)… yes, yes, i know this isn’t very precise, but don’t underestimate the importance of such things ๐Ÿ˜›
(i’d argue that the next one in from the big toe is probably the one you can most afford to lose… and least likely to be lost to accident without taking something else with it.)
also: appendix: less expendable than you might think. (circumstantial and anecdotal evidence only on my part here though. prior to having it removed i had food allergies and intolerances and such … and less problem with milk and dairy products than most supposedly normal healthy people. had my appendix out, within a month (maybe two. i don’t quite remember) i had developed a significant and noticeable lactose intolerance. used to drink more milk than water in a day and be the better for it. now, consuming it in any way is a brilliant way to make myself very sick.)

fear the random trivia!

anon says:

Re: What would you do with 1 Gbps Upload bandwidth?

That is what is so exciting , there are probably hundreds of things you could do that we have not even thought about yet but which people will think about when they have the speed.Just of the top of my head i can think of a few you could host your own server and provide a fast backup and recovery service for local businesses. You could use it to provide a local tv station on your own server. You could provide security monitoring of various premises from the comfort of your home.with such a big upload speed to all there could be a myriad of new business plans where you could run your own business from home. With such a big upload speed there will most definitely be new innovations, and the more Google Fiber can spread through the country the more people can join in and not be stuck on the unemployment line. I am just wondering how fast you could download a 1.5 gb video file on this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: What would you do with 1 Gbps Upload bandwidth?

Upload tones of videos to Youtube, more funny cats with longer duration, did you not see the video demonstration, where the Google people where imagining what could happen in the homes like collaborative video editing, almost instantaneous sharing of hundreds of photos.

1 gigabit would allow true cloud computing no more waiting hours to upload anything, also it allows transfers of big datasets of data(i.e. medical, scientific).

No more getting fragged in your online game when your sister goes online to watch LoLcats and mom keeps trying to watch Netflix.

Anonymous Coward says:

The real issue Google will run into here is the question of disloyal competition: That is to say that they may be financing this network from other places, with no need for the product to actually make money in and of itself.

The good news is at the speed it takes Google to do this, they should be able to roll out nationwide in 2047.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You forget something.

High speed is imperative for cloud services, it won’t be only Google doing that if things don’t improve on the ISP side of things, companies like Amazon, Facebook, VMware and even Microsoft may jump on the bandwagon and start rolling out their own networks so they can make their services competitive.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

With gigabit speeds, Apple can sell more, Amazon can sell more, game publishers can sell more.

What happens if all of them start realizing that they need gigabit speeds to acomplish that?

You really think they will accept the terms and conditions of legacy players when they can do their own thing together and crush the competition?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Here is Apple wanting to sell more AppleTV’s.

Don?t look now, but Apple just created a formidable cord-cutting platform. The new operating system can change the way we watch video in the living room, and might even compel some users to finally cancel their cable and satellite services. Any video content that?s available for the computer can now be just as easily watched on an HDTV. All you need is a 2011 or newer Mac running Mountain Lion, and a $100 Apple TV.

The new AirPlay mirroring feature should have the Xfinitys and DirecTVs of the world very concerned.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

In the video discussing the launch of the network they say it has no caps.

Apparently Google wants more speeds because their cloud services depend on people being able to transfer huge amount of data, what good is to have 1TB of storage when your upload speed is 700Kb/s?

Hollywood and TV Networks may panic now since they don’t control that pipe anymore and in Google’s vision everybody is a creator.

This is huge, with 1 gigabit of transfer rates working from anywhere becomes a reality, cloud services become attractive which may bring more partnerships to them to build services.

Anonymous Coward says:

telus in BC sucks

I wish I lived in Kansas… I’ve been clicking my heels vigorously but every time I open my eyes I’m still in British Columbia Canada where Telus makes loads of $’s and customers part with buckets of $’s to get crippled services from telus. Shaw is slightly better but not by much…

When my current contract is up it’ll be VOIP, VPN, BOXEE and just a highspeed connection with Shaw unless Google comes to town.

hegemon13 says:

Google may not be allowed to have others on "its" pipe

I think they may have moved away from allowing others on the pipe due to what they discovered in Kansas City: there’s already a lot of fiber here. I know for a fact that at least Surewest has contracts to lease fiber to Google. So, ultimately, Google may not be able to allow others to use the infrastructure because…it’s not all their infrastructure. They wisely chose to at least partially build out the network by using existing infrastructure.

This is just wild conjecture, but it may be a part of it.

Matt says:

Wonder when it'll come out in rural areas

With Sprint and Verizon limiting users to 5gb/month, the average American using 34gb of data per day, and me living with four other people, two of whom are power users, and lastly: us living in the middle of a forest without even Comcast–

I doubt Fiber will get to where I live for a very, very long time. But here’s hoping. A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought gigabit speeds were possible, so Google may surprise me with their speed of expanding their service as well.

On the definite upside, competition like this should drive other providers to lift their caps and speeds, and maybe expand to rural areas if they’re feeling generous.

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