Subscribers to Google’s gigabit speed Fiber Internet and cable service will soon be able to add a home phone service to their plan as well.
The company this week introduced Fiber Phone, a $10 per month option for customers signed up for its Internet service. The Fiber Phone option will give subscribers unlimited local and nationwide calling. Rates for international calls made through Fiber Phone will be the same as rates for international calls on Google Voice.
Fiber Phone will allow consumers to retain their existing landline phone number or pick a new number and will offer all the standard landline service features including caller ID, call waiting and 911service.
Like Google Voice, Fiber Phone too will automatically transcribe voice mail messages to text and make them available for retrieval through the user’s mobile phone, tablet or via email.
Consumers can link their existing landline and mobile phones to their Fiber Phone number so when a call is made to one device it becomes available on all linked devices. “Adding Fiber Phone means getting access on the road, in the office, or wherever you are,” Google Fiber project manager John Shriver-Blake announced in a blog post on March 29.
Because Fiber Phone numbers are hosted in the cloud, a subscriber can use the number with any phone, tablet or mobile computer. “It can ring your landline when you’re home, or your mobile device when you’re on-the-go,” Shriver-Blake said.
Google will roll out Fiber Phone in a select few areas, but the company did not say when or where. Over time, the service will become available to customers wherever Google currently offers its high-speed gigabit Internet service.
Fiber Phone continues the push that Google has been making into the carrier market with Google Fiber, its gigabit speed Internet service. Since introducing the service in Provo, Utah in 2013, Google has announced plans to bring Google Fiber to several other major metro areas around the country including Atlanta, Kansas City, Austin, TX and Nashville, Tenn.
The company has claimed the service delivers Internet speeds that are about 100 times faster than the fastest service available from any of the major incumbent providers.
Google’s investments in fiber have received considerable media attention and is even believed to be spooking major carriers into making moves of their own to prevent the company from stealing customers.
Last year for instance, Time magazine noted how Time Warner Cable announced plans to boost Internet speeds six-fold in Charlotte, N.C. soon after Google disclosed plans to introduce Fiber in that area. AT&T announced it would deliver 1-gigabit Internet service in Kansas City just after Google said it would do the same for $70 per month.
Despite all this, Google still only has an extremely small presence in the market for telecommunications and Internet services. An October 2015 report in Multichannel.com that quoted a report by Bernstein Research described Google’s progress with Google Fiber as being slow and limited.
At the time of the report, Google Fiber was available to about 427,000 homes and roughly 96,000 businesses in Provo and Kansas City. The Bernstein report, according to Multichannel.com, pegged the actual number of paid subscribers for Google Fiber to be even smaller at around 100,000 to 120,000.
At the same time, the report also warned rivals not to get too complacent about Google’s performance so far, noting that Fiber had the potential to grab between 40 and 50 percent market shares over the next few years in the regions where it is available.