Google Fiber High-Speed Internet: A Peek Behind the Curtain

There's a lot going on with Google Fiber, and the company is sharing some updates, including when small businesses might also hope to get service.

Google Fiber high-speed Gigabit Internet and cable television services have been spreading into more than a half-dozen communities around the nation since the service debuted in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., in the fall of 2012, but it's still fairly unknown in most parts of the country.

To help educate prospective users about the still-growing effort, Google has launched a series of blog posts to describe who is getting the service first, when small businesses might be offered service, and what goes on behind the scenes in communities and local governments when Google Fiber wants to deploy in a community.

So far, all the Google Fiber deployments and service proposals, including Kansas City; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas; Prairie Village, Kan.; Mission Hills, Kan.; and Roeland Park, Kan., are aimed solely at residences, schools and other public- and non-profit customers.

What's happening lately is that some small-business owners have been asking Google when they can get in on the speed and promise of the super-high-speed capabilities of the Gigabit Fiber services. The answer, according to Google, is that it will come sometime in the future, after residential, public service and nonprofit customers are hooked up and receiving their services.

"Our Fiber cities are full of small-business owners–their entrepreneurial spirit is one of the main reasons why we decided to bring Fiber to [Kansas City], Austin and Provo in the first place, and we can't wait to see what many of them can do with ultra-high-speed Internet," wrote Michael Slinger, director of business operations for Google Fiber in an Oct. 9 post on the Google Fiber Blog.

"From the beginning, Google Fiber was meant to help make the Web faster for individuals and families. We'd noticed frustration from users about their home Internet speeds–nobody likes to put their lives on hold as videos buffer, photo albums upload or movies download. We chose to bring a Fiber to homes first, to help make the Web there faster, and we'll have a small-business product in the future," Slinger wrote.

No timeline is yet available for when hook-ups to businesses might start, according to Slinger. "For now, we're extremely focused on bringing Fiber to all of the residents who are already signed up and waiting for service. We will have more information about our small-business product in the future."

Home-based businesses can, however, take advantage of Google Fiber, he wrote, because they are located inside residential dwellings where the services are being offered so far. "If you live in and work from your home (e.g., accountant, graphic designer, online tutor, talent agent for clowns), you can use Google Fiber. Just make sure you read through and comply with our terms of service."

To bring Google Fiber into a community, Google's teams have to install thousands of miles of new fiber-optic lines and integrate them throughout the infrastructure of the communities they will serve, wrote John Toccalino, Google Fiber's manager of outside plant engineering, in an Oct. 8 post on the Google Fiber Blog. The fiber-optic lines allow the super-fast connections and data transmission speeds offered by the service and are light-years ahead of the copper wires used in existing landline telephone services, he wrote.

"Fiber-optic cables are made of glass, and they use lasers to transmit information–close to the speed of light!" wrote Toccalino. "It's amazing technology, but unfortunately very few homes have direct access to fiber networks today. That's where my team comes in. Every day, we’re working to plan and build brand-new Google Fiber networks in Kansas City and Austin.”

To do that, the teams must build base maps using municipal data to determine where the lines can be installed, while avoiding gas lines, sewer lines and other hazards; then they design the needed networks for each location from scratch, he wrote.