You may have heard of Google Fiber, the new gigabit fiber-optic internet service set up by Google in and around Kansas City. They’re installing fiber optic cable connections to residential homes and businesses, providing people with internet speeds over a hundred times faster than the US average. With gigabit speeds, you’ll be able to download an HD movie in a little over a minute.
It sounds like an ambitious venture, and it is. But Google was never really interested in acting as an ISP. Google could become the country’s best internet provider if it wanted to, but it doesn’t.
Right now, you pretty much just have to live in Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas City, Kansas.
Google Fiber is expensive. I’m not talking about the cost of the service, which is 70 bucks a month, about twice what I pay to get 1% of Google Fiber’s amazing throughput… No, I’m talking about the cost to Google. Stretching fiber optic cable in its tiny geographical area has already cost Google over 1 billion USD. But Google has very good reasons to spend so much on this.
If everyone already had gigabit fiber internet installed, Google would just be getting started. Just about all of Google’s favorite ideas are being held back by the sad state of America’s bandwidth. Google wants to be able to give you instant movies, lightning fast access to cloud storage, and HD teleconferencing. They can’t, because Time Warner, Verizon, Comcast and the rest aren’t interested in making their service any better.
Hilariously, the premium Google Fiber plan comes with a full TV package and what is essentially a 1 Terabyte DVR box. It’s a menacing shot off the bow of all the cable/internet providers that currently dominate the market.
Too add to that, there’s Kansas City itself. Google says Kansas City won the bid for Google Fiber because of its enthusiastic citizens. While that’s certainly important, think about that particular city. They didn’t choose to start Fiber in a place like New York or Los Angeles. Those cities might not have seemed very threatening to the whole cable service ecosystem– so what if New York had fast internet? They have a massive train system, a stock market, and the UN headquarters, and you don’t really see much spillover.
Instead, Google singled out a small to medium sized city right in the middle of the country. If it could happen to little Kansas City, it could happen anywhere.
The message is clear: Get into gear, or die. If the big cable providers don’t get competitive with Google Fiber, they’ll be slowly consumed by it- they have no way to compete against such an outlandishly superior product. If these stagnant companies do finally step up to the plate, then everyone benefits. The public will see greater connectivity, faster e-commerce, and vastly expanded online possibilities… and when that happens, Google wins.
Have you ever seen it in action? Are you looking forward to the day you eventually get gigabit internet for yourself? When do you think that will be? Give us your thoughts, and subscribe to the Sultan Solutions Tech Blog!
By Karl Boehm – November 28th, 2012.