Google has launched its long awaited Google Fiber project in Kansas City, offering a broadband service that it says is 100 times faster than the average speed currently available in the US. It has also launched an interactive TV service dubbed Google Fiber TV.
While the service is already available, customers in the catchment area are required to preregister by 9 September. Google is asking people to encourage their neighbours to sign up as only once each area, dubbed a Fibrehood, has enough people interested will it then make one of three packages available to customers. Each package has a $300 ‘construction fee’ to connect the fibre service to the house, but Google said it would waive this to those who initially sign up to one of the two monthly fee-paying services.
For $120 a month on a two-year contract, customers will get a Network Box with wifi and four Gigabit Ethernet ports, to deliver the 1Gb/sec download and upload speeds, and a TV service via a Google Fiber box that will offer a wide range of HD channels with the ability to record up to eight channels at once. A two terabyte network storage box is provided as well as access to one terabyte of Google Drive storage. Google is also throwing in its new Nexus 7 tablet as a remote control device for the service.
Customers who want a broadband-only service will get the network box for $70 a month and the Google Drive storage.
The third package will require payment of the $300 fee, but will guarantee free internet access for seven years via the provided Network box, though only at speeds of 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload, with no data caps.
The search and advertising company intimated that once it had enough customers signed up it would also hook up schools, libraries, government offices, and other publicly accessed buildings to the fibre network.
To encourage people to sign up, Google has opened a Fiber Space in Kansas City for locals to come and try Google Fiber first hand to see if they like the look of 1Gb internet.
At the launch, Milo Medin, vice president of access services for Google said that over the past decade internet speeds have stagnated. “The access network hasn’t kept up with the rest of the network. It’s great that thing have gotten a little faster but we can do better. You know what, we can do a lot better.”
At the Broadband World Summit in Amsterdam last year, Google’s head of fibre access, Kevin Lo, faced down criticism of Google’s obsession with Fibre from Australian shadow minister for communications and broadband, Malcolm Turnball. “We believe that we are on the right side of history,” Lo said. “If you put a gigabit in people’s homes they will be inspired to find new ways to use it. We have no idea why you need a gigabit today, but when we all had dial up you could not possibly imagine watching video over them. It’s not about doing email faster, it’s about doing those new things that you don’t do today.”