Google Fiber, an initiative to deliver gigabit-speed internet and television to consumers just launched in Kansas City.
According to Google, gigabit-speed is 100 times average broadband internet speed (supported by a fiber-optic network). This is more than powerful enough to make Google Fiber users the envy of everyone (except their neighbors) and to bring high-def television to anyone with a compatible TV. Also included is a DVR capable of recording eight shows simultaneously (I for one am constantly disappointed at the seven shows I miss when I settle on one), and one free terabyte of storage on Google Drive (that’s a lot of bytes). It’s a value proposition consistent with the best products that Google has rolled out. Oh yeah, and don’t lose the remote (because it’s a Nexus 7 tablet).
Google Fiber is priced less than (lesser performing) cable and ISPs and includes a free option. The price for their internet plus TV package is $120 per month, internet only is $70 and Google is offering free internet at average broadband speed for a one-time $300 construction fee. The only hitch to the television offering is that ESPN, CNN, TNT, TBS, Fox and HBO aren’t included, which may be a concern for some. And this is only for residential customers, businesses can’t have Google Fiber yet.
This may sound amazing (and it kind of is), but gigabit-speeds may not be all that they are cracked up to be. Stacey Higginbotham of GigaOm wrote a fantastic piece in anticipation for Google Fiber’s launch describing how one community adopted gigabit-speed internet only to find that because of the constraints of their hardware and the reciprocity between devices on the internet that the blazing speeds they anticipated weren’t blazing. Which is not to say they weren’t still great. Nevertheless this is an early-adoption problem which Google’s pricepoint seems to make irrelevant.
I’m curious to see how this plays out in Kansas City – if Time Warner Cable and AT&T have trouble retaining their market share all ISPs will probably be put on notice that the landscape is changing (and move in this direction). If the channel restrictions don’t hinder adoption, then channels like ESPN, CNN and Fox are going to have to take a hard look at their business models. There are a lot of stakeholders in television and the internet, and they’re probably pretty upset with Google right now.
Google Fiber is a game-changer. It will just be a matter of time to understand which games it will change.
If you’re in Kansas City and interested to “pre-register” you can do that here. And if the value proposition of such a high-performing (yet affordable) ISP compels you to move to Kansas City, hospitals seem enthused to relocate nurses but otherwise you may have to pay for the move yourself.