Google Fiber: are gigabit speeds the real story, or free Internet access?

Google Fiber: are gigabit speeds the real story, or free Internet access?

Summary: Google has been in the news lately regarding their fiber gigabit speeds -- a marvelous prospect that has many of us salivating at the thought of -- but what about the free Internet access they're also offering? That's pretty amazing, too.

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TOPICS: Google
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Have you heard the news? Google has finally started rolling out their fiber initiative, beginning with Kansas City. Google Fiber boasts gigabit speeds that absolutely blow cable Internet speeds out of the water, and for an unbelievably-priced $70 to boot! But while gigabit speeds are an enticingly-delicious prospect to many of us, I think the bigger story here is their offering of free Internet access. Yes, free.

Up front, here are the particulars of Google Fiber's "free Internet" tier:

  • Up to 5Mbps download, 1Mbps upload speed
  • No data caps
  • Free service guaranteed for at least 7 years
  • Includes Network Box
  • $300 construction fee (one time or 12 monthly payments of $25) + taxes and fees

So, is free truly "free?" Not initially, no, but $25 a month for 12 months is far more affordable than any comparable tier from any other provider at the moment. At that, once the $300 construction fee is satisfied -- be it one-time or monthly -- that leaves a guaranteed 6 years of free Internet access.

Now, while 5Mbps down/1Mbps up might not sound all that impressive to you, bear in mind the millions of people who either do not have Internet access at all, or who do not have broadband Internet access -- including some 3 million who are still paying for AOL dial-up! And this doesn't take into account if Google decides to up those speeds at some point.

Unfortunately, I imagine it will be as difficult for Google to run fiber as it's been for current ISPs to run their wire in challenging areas (see: mountains, boondocks, etc.). Likewise, there's the time it's going to take for Google Fiber to expand well beyond Kansas City, and that could take many years.

Either way, it will be interesting to see if Google is forthcoming with any data from their free subscription tier -- even just from Kansas City. The thought of the Internet becoming accessible to people where it hasn't yet been is exciting to me. And it's not only from a philanthropic standpoint that I say that, but also from the standpoint of giving currently-stagnated talent (children, underprivileged adults, etc.) a chance to flourish where they're currently unable to, due to no Internet service.

Lastly, "free Internet" will inevitably motivate current ISPs to rethink their service tiers and pricing. I don't think that will happen for quite some time, but if Google can successfully get the ball rolling with Google Fiber across the country, that should make for more and more winners as ISPs are forced to either shape up or ship out. One can only hope, at least.

If you haven't heard much about Google Fiber yet, Google posted a YouTube video describing the service, including how it works, how they plan on implementing/installing it, and all the goodies you end up with (including a free Nexus 7 tablet as a remote control, if you go for the 2-year, $120/mo Gigabit + TV package). For your viewing pleasure:

If you would like to read more about Google Fiber and keep up with the latest from Google, here are some official Google resources for you to bookmark:

So, whatever the extent and reach of Google Fiber ends up being, its future certainly looks extremely bright. I just hope it flourishes throughout this country like wildfire, and preferably sooner than later!

What do you think? Will Google Fiber kick off and eventually become the new standard, or will ISPs make moves to maintain the majority of their customers? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Topic: Google

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8 comments
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  • Google wants to wire close to 100%

    If property owners pay the $300 they will get it back several times over when they sell or rent in the future. In the mean time Google gets an efficient wiring plan. Two years from now FREE users will all sign up for the $70 or $120 a month when they see what unbuffered HDTV looks like.
    jnffarrell
  • Far from free internet.

    The one thing all of these articles and everyone talking about Google fiber is missing is that it's not free or even incredibly cheap from their perspective.

    You, as a consumer, are the product. You're handing Google a free ticket to sniff every last bit of your internet traffic to better understand you as a person so that they can advertise to you. You'll get Google ads for your strange fetish. The value of the sheer volume of information they'll gain on you as a consumer is worth thousands, of course they'll subsidize your internet.

    Once you understand this the question then becomes, do you care? I personally don't, I use an android phone, I use chrome, and I use Google for searching things. They pretty much know everything there is to know about me. But it's still a privacy concern that most people aren't discussing or even mentioning, and it's one hell of a privacy concern.
    Xanius
    • 13 ad servers

      currently watching me on this site. Some I've heard of some I haven't. The whole google thing is a bit of a red herring when your ISP/Mobile ISP keeps records of everything you do on the internet. The same as google, apple will know where you've been, what you've been looking at whenever using anything IOS related. They won't waste that sort of information!!

      Tbh, the likes of google, apple & facebook are the least of my worries, everyone's eyes are on them while plenty of others are tracking us silently and out of the public eye.
      Little Old Man
    • Can't cure stupid...

      Either you have $0 income or you are truly a stupid troll. For a flat $300 fee, ANYONE whether they are on welfare or have a job will be able to afford that and then some.
      And you do not need to worry about them "sniffing" you unless you are a convict.
      Parafrost
  • A damn good idea

    Google is offering free internet for the minimum service. Presumably it expects that once people have experienced having the internet, and the cabling is there, and their $25 a month for the first year is paid, they'll decide to upgrade to a better service. Its a damn good idea that NBNCo ought to seriously think about doing here. They should offer everyone a deal they can't refuse to get onboard. But what NBNCo is doing here is charging nearly as much for a slow service than a fast one, then crowing that most of its customers are on the highest speed, and trying to keep it secret that they actually have very few customers. They're spending heaps of our money put cable past homes, then getting no income from most of them. Even if they got something from them, that'd be better than nothing. That';s what Google is smart enough to have understood, and NBNCo isn't.
    Gordon D
  • Add one additional benefit.

    With ~600Mb/s real bandwidth its easy to start Internet STARTUP if you want to relay on your own servers.

    And with such network it also enable "work from home" scenarios, and other such things.
    przemoli
  • Consumer Choice

    It is in Google's best interest to offer you free internet access by doing so you will make more use of Google services and allow them to gain more advertising revenue. It is a similar business model to that being adopted by Amazon to sell a tablet cheaply with the aim of gaining extra sales from in device purchases.

    Traditional ISP's tend not to have an internet based alternate business in the sense that Google has and I think that they will find it hard to compete.

    I agree totally with the earlier point made by Xanius that it will also allow them greater to opportunity to collect data on us to help refine the advertising that they offer to us.

    Here in Britain we all pay a TV licence fee that funds the BBC but there are also commercial TV stations who provide high quality programming (allegedly) for free, the trade off is that there will be an ad break every 15 minutes. People accept the ad break in return for watching the program for free. Advertising is here to stay so over time while Google may offer free internet access there are likely to be other costs.

    It comes down to how you see the difference between cost and value. Do you value low cost or no ads more?
    michaelwalmsley
  • Gogle Same Old Same Old

    Goggle fiber is the same old song and dance of building “muni” network on the foundation of crony capitalism. Goggle is building the network on foundation of exclusive easement of regulation and free office space, land and power. The taxpayes foot the bill. If this was a truly free market initiative, Google may or most likely not be successful.
    Scatcatpdx