As Google rolls out its first Google Fiber service in Kansas City, IT analyst Jeff Kagan says the company's splashy foray into cable TV and Internet could potentially be a game-changer across the nation.
After a 16-month wait, Google announced that
residents of Kansas City can now start signing up to receive gigabit-speed
Internet and cable television service through Google Fiber
starting in September.
And rather than deciding on its own which
neighborhoods will get the first service, Google is asking residents to gather
their neighbors together to "lobby" for the first hook-ups through
a sign-up competition
that will last through Sept. 9, according to a July
26 blog post on the Google Fiber blog. The neighborhoods with higher numbers of
preregistrations will be the first ones to get the services, according to the
blog post from Kevin Lo, the general manager of Google
The Kansas City area was chosen more than two years ago by Google as the
place to start their Google Fiber efforts ago after the company publicly
asked communities across the nation
whether they'd want to be the test site
for the project. "More than 1,100 cities raised their hands, and those of
you in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri won us over with your
enthusiasm for better, faster Web connections," wrote Lo.
The sign-up rally is being conducted because "Google Fiber works better
when communities are connected together," wrote Lo. "So weve divided
Kansas City into small communities we call 'fiberhoods.' Well install only
where theres enough interest, and well install sooner in fiberhoods where
theres more interest."
As part of the program, Google says it will also connect community buildings
like schools, libraries and hospitals with free Gigabit Internet if the
"fiberhoods" reach their preregistration goals. "The first
homes will get service shortly after the rally ends, and all qualifying
neighborhoods will receive service before the end of 2013."
of the fiber network in the area began in February
, when the laying of
fiber cable got underway.
The impact of the first Google Fiber effort will be
carefully watched and will likely make waves across the nation if the company
is successful with this first deployment, said Jeff Kagan, an independent
Matched with the rumored launch of Apple's iTV at
the end of the year, the move into the cable market by both companies "could
transform the business," said Kagan.
Just how could Google Fiber make a difference in the
What the company's entry into the market will bring,
said Kagan, is true competition through price cuts from traditional cable
companies that will be terrified of Google's potential success. Consumers want
lower prices to combat what has been a doubling of cable TV prices every 10
years, he said.
"It has been falling on deaf ears with the
cables companies until competitors started coming in," said Kagan. "If
Verizon and AT&T were the only competitors, I'm afraid that wouldn't be
enough to change things. Now that Google is making waves, this is where the
cable TV industry is either going to be fixed or stay broken."
Both Google and Apple caused similar large impacts
when they moved into the wireless marketplace, where neither had previous
experience before taking that leap.
"Now they are one and two in that market,"
said Kagan. "They could do the same thing with television. And if they do,
it's going to throw Comcast and Cox and other cable providers into a whirlwind,
a death spiral, as their customers leave. This is what we could see in the next
This potential scenario is probably the only thing
that will truly lower prices for consumers, said Kagan. "If and when [Google]
gets this right, it's going to send quakes of terror through the cable TV industry."
Pricing for Google Fiber in Kansas City
starts at $70 per month for 1 gigabit Internet access alone, up to $120 per month for 1 gigabit Internet access as well as Google Fiber TV. The Google TV package also includes a Nexus 7 tablet that can be used as a remote control. 1TB of cloud storage is included with the Internet-only package, while 2TB of DVR storage is included with the TV/Internet package.
Residents who preregister for the service by Sept. 9 will also be eligible
for free Internet access at a lower speed under the sign-up program, according
to Google. Preregistrants whose neighborhoods are selected for fiber hook-ups
will be able to get a free 5M bps connection free of
monthly charges, though they will have to pay a $300 installation free. That
charge can be paid at once or in $25 monthly installments.
So what's under the hood in the fiber network itself? The fiber cables
themselves are composed of thin glass fibers, each about the width of a human
hair. Woven together as part of a big broadband fiber mesh, the cable network
will facilitate data at speeds more than 100 times faster than what most
Americans have today, according to Google.
Google wants to test this speedy broadband network as a template for
supporting gaming applications and other graphically intensive programs.
Google's own YouTube video-sharing service would benefit greatly from speedier
data facilitation, generating more video views and more ads served.
Editor's note: This article was updated to include the correct amount of cloud storage made available with both the Google TV package and the TV/Internet package.