You may have not known that Google, in addition to all of its other divisions, is also an Internet Service Provider. The company has been keeping its Internet service capabilities contained to a minor project experimenting with the fastest Internet speeds possible for U.S. networks. However, that project has produced major results, and if you live in a U.S. city, those results could mean a lot to you in the coming years.
The purpose of Google Fiber is to create an Internet service option using only fiber optic communication capabilities. Fiber optic lines use wound glass threads that transmit data as light. High quality, fiber optic lines are extremely fast and do not suffer from the distortion problems that other types of wires encounter. The problem is that fiber optic cable is expensive, and Internet Service Providers already have other broadband lines in place, so switching to fiber optic cable is a project many providers avoid.
Google decided to solve some of these difficulties by building a fiber optic network from the ground up. Since the company had no other infrastructure to replace, it was able to create its own network with relatively little trouble. The network is still very limited. Back in 2011, Google chose one city to build its fiber optic network in. That city was Kansas City, and the network remains confined to Kansas City and surrounding communities in Kansas and Missouri.
Residents of Kansas City can sign up with Google Fiber for both Internet and TV options and enjoy Internet speed that — for now — is the highest in the nation.
Google Fiber and Internet Speed
Netflix, the famed streaming video service, announced in late 2012 that it would publish monthly rankings of U.S. Internet Service Providers based on how fast they are. The first ranking report published had Google Fiber at the top of the list by a substantial margin, and Fiber continued to dominate the list while other, more well-known national networks like Verizon FiOS and Comcastfought for lesser positions. Ranks shift, but Google remains on top.
Google Fiber stayed at the top of the list with an average speed of 2.55 Mbps, compared to average speeds between 2.17 and 2.20 Mbps offered by the other fastest networks in the United States. These average speeds take into account peak periods of use, home WiFi networks, and other common factors in actual quality. The extra-high speeds Google provides are possible because of the new fiber optic infrastructure, but also because the network is still very small and does not have to deal with as much network congestion at busy times of the day as competitors have to face.
To gain access to these Internet speeds, customers must pay $70 per month. Google is also offering free Internet service (yes, free) for a $300 installation fee, but at far lower speeds. For customers willing to pay $120 per month, Google is providing both Internet and HDTV services, with included a TV box, a Nexus 7 tablet, and a DVR storage box — plus 2 TB of DVR storage online and 1 TB in Google Drive, Google’s cloud computing storage system. Not only are these options more than the typical provider can give its customers, but Google also provides an optional Chromebook laptop for any level of service.
Plans for Expansion
Currently, Google has not revealed any plans for national expansion of Google Fiber, something that would cost an estimated $140 billion to do all at once. For now, the company only has plans to move into other areas of Kansas City and surrounding communities. The project may remain limited, but Google Fiber’s notable Internet speeds have caught national interest. Now customers know that 2.5 Mbps speeds are possible, and extra pressure has been placed on all providers, including yours, to improve their own performance.
Google Fiber’s notable rankings have come at an interesting time for Internet companies. Providers like Comcast are struggling to meet the digital demands of streaming video at affordable prices. Being outdone by Google with a network that provides speeds many times higher than the average Internet cable package has lit a fire under these companies. Not only is Google showing that fiber optic networks are possible, but it is providing connectivity with Google devices, popular apps, tablets, cloud storage, and other bonuses that few providers can match.
The competition may be localized, but the nationwide attention is forcing many companies to rethink their own packages as Google keeps on topping the Netflix rankings. In the end, everyone is set to benefit from Google Fiber, no matter where they are.
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