Google Fiber: still exciting after all the hype

With speeds 100 times faster than the average American connection, the option of free internet or a full media service, Google Fiber is an exciting prospect for consumers — even if it might take a while to reach the rest of the world.

Fiber keeps you regular

For those who live under a rock, or somehow haven’t heard about the most ambitious internet infrastructure and service being offered today, let us introduce you to Google Fiber (GF).

Google Fiber is direct-to-home fiber-optics based communication. In other words — really fast internet that is affordable.

It’s all starting in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri — finally Dorothy and Toto can video chat. After a lengthy application process the state of Kansas won out, but GF will roll out into other parts of America, and then the rest of the world, in the coming years.

Launching on 26 July 2012, and going live for the selected neighbourhoods in Kansas City on September 9 2012, GF has the potential to change the future of the internet as well as how we access data and media.

The infrastructure will see speeds 100 times faster than the average American connection (10Mbps), no caps and one of three service plans to cater to your internet needs: a TV+Internet option, an Internet-only option and… Drum roll please… a Free-Internet option.

The costs involved are staggeringly affordable. Google is offering to lay fiber-optic cables directly to your home for an installation fee of US$300. This gives you potential download and upload speeds of up to 1Gbps.

Plan Ahead

The plans are impressive, and priced according to the service they provide. The most expensive plan: TV+Internet will cost you US$120/mo, and the US$300 installation fee will even be waived if you take a two-year contract.

With this plan you get the whopping 1Gbps speeds, TV access, a two terabyte (2000 gigs) DVR Storage Box (which can record eight channels simultaneously), the Network Box (your router) and you also get one terabyte of Google Drive storage.

On top of this you are given a Nexus 7 tablet which will serve as your remote control for all of these devices. The full list of channels has not been released yet, but the storage capabilities alone are impressive, whether your bag is cloud or physical, you’ve got three terabytes of storage to play with.

Besides the TV channels, you also get full access to HD YouTube as well as Netflix. The two terabyte Storage Box (fancy name for hard drive) means you can store a whopping 500 hours of HD media.

If you feel that TV isn’t for you, or you are worried about regional limitations (once GF extends out of America) then perhaps the Internet-only plan is for you.

For US$70 a month you get the same 1Gbps speeds, but you sacrifice the Storage Box and Nexus 7 tablet. You still get the one terabyte of Google Drive storage though and the installation fee of US$300 will be waived if you take a one-year contract.

And lastly there is the Free-Internet plan. It’s got a nice ring to it doesn’t it? All you have to pay is the once-off US$300 installation fee or $25/mo for a year and you will get free internet for a minimum of seven years.

On this plan your speeds drop drastically to 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. However, given that 5Mbps is adequate for most internet applications, you might find that this is one of the more popular plans chosen in the early stages of Google Fiber’s existence.

The idea behind this plan is to encourage neighbourhoods to still put the cables in place at an affordable price, even if they don’t want a TV service or feel that they don’t need super fast speeds just yet.

But what does it meme?

The existence of Google Fiber means very good things for consumers. It is competition for ISPs, which means that other cable companies are going to have to provide both faster and cheaper services. It should also mean the end of data caps as we know it, especially with GF’s Free-Internet option — why would anyone choose a capped connection over a free uncapped one?

GF also has huge implications for cloud-based computing. If you could get the speeds Google are promising, then your internet connection, theoretically, will one day run at speeds close to a Local Area Network (LAN). This will solve the bottleneck that current internet speeds experience, especially for uploads.

The popularity of online storage services such as Dropbox for documents and smaller files proves that there is a demand for cloud-based services. But for larger files and data, the cloud is still not feasible because of current upload speeds and data caps.

Google seems to be acknowledging that the future of file-sharing is cloud-based, all that Google Fiber does is make it affordable. It also ensures that Internet proliferation reaches 100%, as is most evident with the Free-Internet option.

Google Fiber is leading the way, taking on the challenge of transferring larger files and data online. It’s starting small, just in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, but it’s exciting to think that these speeds are achievable in the foreseeable future, at an affordable price and with no data caps.

The Cloud is nigh.



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