Google Fiber Wants to Get More Kansas City Businesses Online

Google is offering Kansas City businesses free Websites and one year of free hosting, and has added a Google Fiber TV app for iPad users.

Google Fiber started bringing its high-speed gigabit Internet and cable television services to the Kansas City area in the fall of 2012 and now wants to leverage that investment by getting more local businesses online to help drive the local economy.

To do that, Google is inviting local Kansas City businesses to create their own free Websites and receive a year's worth of free Web hosting so that they can offer their products and services to more customers by using the speed and services of the Google Fiber network.

"Ninety-seven percent of Internet users look for local products and services online," wrote Rachel Hack, community manager for Google Fiber, in an April 23 post on the Google Fiber Blog. "This is a huge potential market for small businesses. Unfortunately, 44 percent of Kansas City small businesses don't have a website or online presence. Google wants to help change that."

Interested business owners are being invited by Google to register for one of two free in-person local seminars being held at 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. April 25 at Sporting Park, 1 Sporting Way, in Kansas City, Kan., according to the company. Companies can register to attend the sessions via Google's "Kansas Get Your Business Online" Website, wrote Hack.

"At the event, Intuit will provide local businesses with a free website, and a team of Google experts will help participants build and design their sites," she wrote. "Businesses will also receive a customized domain name, free web hosting for one year, a local business listing on Google Maps and free tools, training and resources. Google experts will be on hand to train the business owners on how to reach more customers online in both English and Spanish."

Business owners who can't attend the sessions can still get their own free Websites through the organization, wrote Hack. "Whether you're a mechanic, own a mail and copy shop, or have a hair salon, we hope you can attend!"

The Kansas City area, in both Kansas and Missouri, was Google's first Fiber deployment in the United States since it began service hookups in the fall of 2012.

Earlier this month, two more U.S. cities—Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas—were announced as the second and third communities where Google Fiber services will be unveiled in the future.

Meanwhile, to help drive more business online and to better serve its customers, Google Fiber also has unveiled its new Google Fiber TV app for iPad users, joining an Android app that was previously available.

"Losing the TV remote just got a little less unsettling," wrote Tim Jennison, a Google Fiber software engineer, in an April 23 post on the Google Fiber Blog. "As of this morning, our Google Fiber TV app is available for iPad owners. For the past month, our Fiber TV customers have been able to control their TVs with any recent Android device. Using the Fiber TV app from the Google Play Store, they can search for programming, browse listings, and select shows or recordings with just the touch or swipe of a finger. Now, iPad users can enjoy this simple, intuitive experience, too."

Early results from the Kansas City rollout have been promising for Google Fiber based on Internet speed ratings reported by Netflix each month. Based on the small but growing deployment Google Fiber has in Kansas City today, the service is ranked No. 1 for Internet speeds across the nation, compared with competitors, according to the Netflix numbers. Google Fiber is listed at 3.45M-bps average speed, compared with 2.39M bps for its nearest rival, Cablevision Optimum.

Pricing for Google Fiber in Kansas City starts at $70 per month for 1-gigabit Internet access alone, and 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. One terabyte of cloud storage is included with the Internet-only package, while 2TB of DVR storage is included with the TV/Internet package. Residents will also be eligible for free Internet access at a lower speed under the sign-up program, according to Google.