March 8, 2014

Google Fiber: Affordable Performance Never Looked Better


Hostway Team

google-fiberSan Antonio, the home of one of Hostway's offices, is a crossroads for major cross-country optical fiber. An east-west route follows Interstate 10, and a north-south one follows I-35.

Still, the announcement that Google Fiber may come to San Antonio – one of nine metropolitan areas eligible for the service – is significant news; if it happens, it will provide a much-needed jolt to the local incumbent telephone and cable companies while also helping Google develop a more balanced revenue stream.

For those unfamiliar with Google Fiber, the first city to receive the new service, Kansas City, was chosen after a competitive selection process. Over 1,100 communities applied to be the first recipient of the service. Austin, Texas followed as the second city to be developed.

To grasp the impact of Google Fiber, consider this: Prior to Google Fiber's announcement, Time Warner Cable charged $65 for its fastest residential service in San Antonio, at 50 megabits per second.

Google Fiber will provide service at 1 gigabit – 1,000 megabits – per second.

To put it simply, Google Fiber starts with a connection that is up to 100 times faster than today's average broadband speeds, providing instant downloads and crystal clear high definition TV. Interested yet?

Imagine that the following packages available to Kansas City coming to your town, and their effect on the market:

  • $120/mo Gigabit  + TV with more than 150 HD channels
  • Gigabit Internet at $70/mo
  • 5MB Internet for one-time $300 construction fee with zero recurring cost for up to seven years.

Google Fiber second-tier offering – though considerably slower – is billed as “today's basic speeds.” The one-time start-up fee of $300 can be paid in $25 monthly installments for a year, and would help bring Internet access to a less affluent demographic.

An advantage for San Antonio is that city-owned CPS Energy owns 86 percent of utility poles in the city. AT&T owns the remainder. This could help Google Fiber avoid lease disputes, which have slowed plans in Austin.

Perhaps most notable, this will fuel competition. With Google Fiber building a network in Austin, PCWorld reported Time Warner Cable will boost broadband speeds there while keeping prices flat.

It is important to understand that in order to utilize gigabit speeds as of 2013, devices would require support for 1000BaseT – Gigabit Ethernet on copper cables, using four pairs of Category 5 unshielded twisted pair to achieve the gigabit data rate – and category 5 or greater cabling, or a 802.11ac compatible WiFi router and wireless adapter.

Also keep in mind that even if the Gigabit connection can handle any load you can muster, the Gigabit connection really only gets close to such high speeds if you have something on the other end to serve it adequately, and not throttle or otherwise slow it down.

All in all, the new Google Fiber development is an exciting phenomenon to potentially come to these cities.  Time will tell if Google will move forward with plans to build the infrastructure. Rest assured, I will be staying tuned.

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