Today marks the day when Google has officially launched their Google Fiber service in the Greater Kansas City Area. Google had originally made the announcement regarding Google Fiber back in 2010 with the winner announced in late 2010. That city was Kansas City, Kansas. Over the past year and a half, Google has been working feverishly to lay the fiber necessary to enable them to have to only run from the street to people’s homes.
When people hear about Gigabit internet, what does that necessarily mean? Google claims that it is internet that is 100 times faster than the average internet available to most people today, which sounds about right to us. 10 megabit internet essentially enables you to download files at 1.12 megabytes per second, or in even more layman terms, 10 megabits means it would take you eleven minutes to download a single movie. With Google Fiber, that can be accomplished in exactly 7 seconds. Yes, 7 seconds to be exact. If you don’t believe us, check out the Google Fiber Race that Google has put up on their Google Fiber site.
Because Google Fiber is so fast at downloading media files, they have also created a Google Fiber TV service to work in conjunction with their Fiber Internet. Google Fiber TV is unique because it completes the vision that Google had for television when they launched Google TV, but without the limitations of having to rely on cable providers for quality content. With Google Fiber TV, you can watch any TV show you want on any device you want. Google Fiber TV will be powered by a single home DVR device that packs 2 Terabytes (2000 Gigabytes) of storage in conjunction with 1 Terabyte of Google Drive Cloud Storage. Because it will pack a 2 TB storage solution and Fiber internet, you can simultaneously watch and record 8 different FULL HD 1080P shows at the same time. There are effectively no limitations to what you can do with Google Fiber TV.
One of the great things about Google Fiber TV (Fiber is what we believe was the missing factor with GoogleTV) is that it encourages the user to use their smartphones and tablets as second screens to their TVs. This is accomplished through an application available on both Android and iOS for both tablets and smartphones. It allows the user to make their tablet or smartphone the ultimate smart remote for their TVs. So much so, that Google will actually be bundling Nexus 7 tablets with their Google Fiber TV packages in order to let people see how awesome their second screen experience really is. That’s not all, either. Because Google has an application on these devices and is running inside the home, if you are kicked off the TV for one reason or another you can simply take your TV show with you on your phone or tablet and continue to watch it on the mobile device or even take the show with you to another room.
This feature is possible because Google Fiber TV will be connected to every single TV in the house via an adapter that can easily fit behind any TV. This adapter will serve as both a client for the TV to connect it to the main Google Fiber TV DVR, but also to act as a range extender and a simultaneous wireless access point. What this does is actually extend the range and signal strength of the wireless network in the home while also enabling a single wired device to also tap into the wireless network. Wired devices that might want to tap into the Gigabit network could be anything ranging from a home desktop to a BluRay player or a gaming console like an XBOX or PS3.
When it comes to actual content, Google Fiber TV will have tens of thousands of on-demand TV shows in HD as well as a various array of hundreds of HD channels. As if that weren’t enough, the search feature of Google Fiber TV will enable users to search both past, current, and future programming. Google Fiber TV will use their own service to search their available content as well as anything already available as a locally downloaded file sitting on any network attached device, be it a laptop, desktop or NAS. None of that is necessarily revolutionary on it’s own until you realize that Google is also integrating Netflix into the search which effectively plugs any holes that might exist in the on-demand, live or locally stored libraries.
The Google Fiber Network Box will feature a 4-port gigabit switch as well as high-speed Wi-Fi, which will act as your gateway to the Google Fiber network. Admittedly, for most power users this isn’t likely going to be enough and they will want to increase the range and wired ports available to their home. In order to do this at a reasonable level without losing too much performance, they will likely want to go out and purchase 802.11ac routers (which is hopefully what this Google Network Box is capable of delivering). Even though there are not really any 802.11ac devices available as of yet, by the time Google Fiber starts rolling out later this year, there likely will be.
So, how much will this cost exactly? The Google Fiber TV service will cost $120 per month while the standard Google Fiber service will cost users $70 per month. In addition to that, users can actually opt for the free option which will cost nothing for at least 7 years with the exception of the setup fee. The setup fee for Google Fiber is $300 which will actually be waived for any user that signs up for Google Fiber TV or Google Fiber for at least a year. When you consider that service providers like Time Warner, Comcast, and Cox are charging about $100 per month for 50 megabits per month, you really begin to understand how much of a steal Google Fiber really is. The $300 set up fee will also include the necessary hardware as well as a home visit by a Google Fiber consultant to not only figure out the best setup, but also to help set up the network boxes and TVs and the Nexus 7 tablet and other mobile devices.
In order to get Google Fiber installed in your neighborhood, you need to get enough people in your Fiberhood to express interest. Generally, Google claims that they need between forty and eighty people to express interest in a Fiberhood in order to light up the fiber and to start connecting users to the Gigabit network. A Fiberhood is generally made up of 250-1,500 households that make up a portion of either Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas City, Kansas. Currently Google has a ‘rally’ where they are trying to get as many people during a 60 day period to express interest so that Google knows exactly which areas to begin with. The areas with the most interest will generally be the first to get the service. If you have any more questions about getting Google Fiber, we recommend consulting the Google Fiber Help Page.
As if that weren’t enough, Google will also be installing Google Fiber for free inside local libraries, and educational and healthcare institutions. This will enable the entire city to move at a faster pace and to enable newer technologies across the board. There is no doubt that enabling such speeds for everyone will increase the rate of innovation and the transmission of ideas, be they educational or artistic.
There really is not much else to say other than the fact that Google has really shown us what is really possible when bandwidth is not a factor. While there is no doubt that this makes us extremely excited about Google Fiber and Google Fiber TV we can not help but be a little disappointed that it will not be available in other areas. Simultaneously, it is also an extremely disappointing commentary on the status of the internet in the United States when Google is forced to essentially pay to install fiber in an entire city and deliver ultra-high-speed internet because our both ISPs and government have failed us.
If anything, this announcement should serve as a wake up call to Americans and even people across the world that having fast internet is possible and is a fundamental need in order to keep innovation and creativity alive. There are very few countries in the world that have ubiquitous high-speed internet and those places have proven that without having an internet bottleneck, many things suddenly become more possible.