When Google first launched their unfathomably fast internet service, Google Fiber, back in 2010, the entire world immediately started to pay attention. It took only one year for the tech giant to bring the service to the Kansas City metropolitan area, instantly turning it into a thriving start-up and entrepreneurial hub. In fact, the promise of affordable, enterprise-grade internet has convinced 121 businesses to relocate to the Google Fiber area, according to the city manager’s office.
Given how limited the availability of Google Fiber still is, you are probably not among the lucky few who can sign up for the service. Even more, you might not know what Google Fiber actually is, how it works, and what advantages does it have over regular fiber optic internet providers. You will find the answer to all that and more in this article.
What is Google Fiber?
Let’s start with the name, shall we? ‘Fiber’ comes from the method using which Google transmits information from one place to another. Instead of using copper wiring, Google Fiber sends pulses of light through an optical fiber, which is a flexible, transparent fiber made by drawing glass or plastic to a diameter slightly thicker than that of a human hair.
We could get into nerdy technical details, but suffice to say that this method of information transmission allows for fast speeds – really, REALLY fast speeds. How fast exactly? Well, Google’s plans range from 5Mbps all the way to a 1Gbps. That’s right. 1000Mbps. Let’s say that you are upgrading from 5Mbps. In that case, Google Fiber would be up to 200 times faster.
The experience that comes with such an extraordinary internet connection is hard to imagine. You can think about your last computer, and remember how it handled right before you decided to purchase a new one. You were probably so used to all those few seconds waiting times and general choppiness that you didn’t even notice them anymore. That is until you booted up the new computer for the first time. Suddenly, you were shocked how instantaneous everything was, how you could easily accomplish 2 hours’ worth of work in half that time. That’s pretty much how Google Fiber feels.
Best of all, Google Fiber is not just the fast internet. The service also includes a TV with more than 150 channels and more than 200,000 TV shows and movies on demand. The TV comes with a Google Cast support, allowing you to see exactly what’s on your Android mobile device by casting your mobile screen to the TV.
Google certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to the image quality. All shows and movies are streamed with much less compression than what you get with other on-demand TV providers. Included with the television service is a DVR that can record up to 8 shows at once, taking advantage of 2TB of storage space that come with the unit. Both the TV itself and the DVR are controlled through the Google Fiber TV app, which is available on Android or iOS devices.
And for $10 per month, Google lets you add the Fiber Phone service to your Fiber plan. With it, you can enjoy unlimited local and nationwide calling, all while getting a complete control over your privacy. You are in charge of spam filtering and call screening, to protect you from intrusive phone calls.
Google Fiber Plans
Most businesses who move to an area where Google Fiber is available do so because of its affordability. Google initially marketed the service with their “pay a one-time construction fee, and you get Internet access for free after that” marketing pitch. The company has since then moved away from the model, but the low cost is still one of Fiber’s key features.
Depending on where you live, you will either be able to choose from three or four available plans. Probably the least interesting is the Google Fiber Broadband. For $15 per month, you get 25 Mbps upload and download speeds, no data caps, and no equipment rental or installation fees. Don’t get us wrong, 25 Mbps for $15 is not bad at all, but it’s also not what Google Fiber is all about – speed.
To get a taste of the internet of the future, you have to pay $50 per month with no construction fee or contract for Fiber 100, which is 100 Mbps download and upload internet service.
Because the Fiber 100 uses the same wiring and equipment as the Google’s fastest plan, Fiber 1000, you can upgrade at any time for just $20 extra per month. If you would like to also enjoy the TV service, you will have to pay $130 per month for the Fiber 1000 + TV package.
Availability of Google Fiber
Earlier this year, Google acquired Webpass, the San Francisco-based Internet service provider. This wouldn’t be too interesting on its own – after all, Google is known for swallowing smaller companies and using their existing technologies and infrastructure – but the acquisition hints at a near future for Google Fiber, one that looks noticeably different from the present state.
From the beginning of Google Fiber, Google is known for planning and building a new network from scratch for each location where Fiber was to become available. This involves a careful review of the existing infrastructure, construction based on existing utility poles and water, gas, and electricity lines, installation of the new fiber optic cable, and individual installation in the home or apartment of each customer.
As you can imagine, this can get very expensive very fast, and that’s where Webpass comes in. They offer point-to-point wireless service, which allows for up to 1Gps internet speed without optic cables. The signal is, instead, transmitted using fixed antennas strategically located across a town or city. Google seems to be moving to wireless technology, meaning that a lot more people could potentially enjoy Google Fiber in a lot less time than it would take otherwise.
As of now, Fiber is available in 7 cities and is being prepared for another 5:
Current Fiber city: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Charlotte, NC; Kansas City, MO; Kansas City, KS; Nashville, TN; Provo, UT
Upcoming Fiber city: Huntsville, AL; Raleigh–Durham, NC; Salt Lake City, UT; San Antonio, TX; San Francisco, CA
Fiber may not be available in all neighborhoods, so you better visit the official website that contains all current expansion plans and verify the information yourself.
There, you will also see a list of cities that are considered as the next Fiber city. As of now, the list includes Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, San Diego, just to name a few.
Google Fiber has still a long way to go before it can truly compete with some of the largest nation-wide internet service providers. But if you are lucky enough to live in an area where it is available, it’s definitely worth a try. There’s hardly any alternative that would allow you to enjoy similar ultra-fast speeds for the same affordable price.