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Google Fiber and Your Need For Speed

Okay, so now we know what Google Fiber is going to be all about: 1 gigabit Internet and TV service.

Roll that around in your head for a little bit. 1 GIGABIT.

Geez. That’s fast.

But do you… all right, let’s pause for a minute here and go over the details, announced today. It’ll initially be offered in Kansas City (both of them, Missouri and Kansas), and you’ll pay ten bucks to pre-register (which you have to do before September 9th), $300 bucks for them to run fiber to your house, and have to wait to see if they decide to do your neighborhood (they’re looking for 5 to 25% of homes in an area before they’ll go in). There’ll be three tiers of service: free 5 Mbps Internet-only for at least seven years to anyone who pays the $300 installation fee (which you can pay in 12 installments), 1 gigabit Internet-only for $70/month, and Internet with some TV with a DVR and a Nexus 7 tablet (your remote!) for $120/month (and that $300 fee is waived with the latter two packages, which also include 1 TB of Google Drive storage; the TV package adds a 2 TB “storage box” for DVR video). No data caps.

So far, sounds great. Downside? Not all the channels you’d want if you’re replacing cable (no HBO, no ESPN, no BBC America, no FX or CNN or Cartoon Network or several others), although that could and probably will change in time. You’re at the mercy of your neighbors wanting to sign up before you can get it.

And then there’s this. 1 gigabit sounds awesome, especially for streaming. But do you really need it? My experience with FiOS is that fiber is indeed fast — speed tests look great — and it’s nice for downloads and uploads, but for streaming, it’s not that much different. Streaming video still has the occasional glitch. Web pages aren’t as instant as you’d want, because you’re still at the mercy of how fast the page’s server serves up content. I still have the same long pause with some websites (coughL.A.Timescough) that bog down while waiting for a third-party ad server to react. Plus, Wi-Fi is still going to knock you down a lot, because with all the dual radios and antennas they use, it’s still not going to send anything along at 1 gigabit, and if they do what FiOS does — I couldn’t find this out for now — and use existing coaxial cable inside the house rather than string fiber through your walls, that’ll affect speed, too. You’ll find that the Mac beach ball and the Windows hourglass are not things of the past, speed or no speed.

But I’m still at just a fraction of 1 gigabit. And if you’re currently suffering with slow DSL speeds or tethered to your cell phone, you’re going to want to go for it. Plus, that much bandwidth is more future-proof than anything else out there; It’s plenty of room for any streaming or downloads you’re likely to encounter in the foreseeable future. If you’re on halfway decent broadband, though… do you think you’d sign up? Is 1 gigabit at $70/month attractive enough to you to spend, well, $70/month? How fast do you need your Internet service to be, and how much of your monthly budget are you willing to assign to it? Are you now drooling and planning to move to Kansas City, or are you all like “meh”? Talk about it in the comments.

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14 comments

  • Question is bandwidth download cap? My family watches Netflix all day since we stopped cable service for over 7 years now. We used to have AT&T and would reach the cap in like two weeks. So with that much speed, would google cap out how much we can download per month?

  • $70/month for these speeds to just one location isn’t as good a deal as 4G speed to everywhere you can take a tablet.

    …unless you’re serving things! It looks as if this connection speed is symmetrical, which is potentially quite a big deal.

  • I would definitely buy into Google fiber. As a content creator I’m terrified at the possibility of cable companies throttling online video streaming. Google fiber would never do that because they want you to download a TON of video. They want you to watch YouTube and spend time on their channels without worrying about caps and throttling. There’s no conflict of interest that cable companies see in people streaming video.
    Google fiber could be a major shift in internet infrastructure and I’d jump all over it.
    If only I lived in Kansas City.

  • Hell, yes I need it/want it/wantssss it!

    As an editor, I’m routinely uploading and downloading 100s of MBs to 10s of GBs every week. A 1Gb up/down pipe will save me tons of time.

  • I’ve got FIOS 25/25 (actually more like 30/30 if hard wired to the router) but yea, wireless takes it down a peg. But I can still get HD streaming to my AppleTV. And trying to hook up a better wireless router off of the one I was given is an exercise in futility, if dealing with the ISP. It does do MoCA networking, which is pretty sweet.

    FIOS has a huge, honking box hanging off my house that converts the fiber over to coax to run throughout the house. I doubt that pulling all that and replacing it with fiber would make that much difference.

  • I’m paying $70/month for 50Mbps down/5Mbps up. Next month it goes up to 120/month (They gave me a year of free 50/5 after a few years of no late payments. I can’t justify 120/month for internet. Considering nobody is uploading to me at 50Mbps. Though it’s nice to stream movies to my tv, download music, and game at the same time without worry. Never been warned about hitting cap with Cox. I’ve downloaded just over 30GB in the last 24 hours while uploading about 6GB in the same time. Definitely can’t complain about Cox, besides the price. I made some bad life decisions when my internet costs more than my car insurance.

    1Gbps with no cap sounds too good to be true. But the only way for 1gig internet to be useful is if they can get masses of people hooked up to fast uploads. It’s ridiculous that my top tier internet from Cox will only upload 1/10 the speed I can download. Left up to cable and phone companies, we will never see improvement.

    Simple users can spare $25 a month or one time fee of $300 for a 5MB connection. Power users cant argue with the price. I pay the same that I pay now, but am able to download 20 times faster? I say again…what’s the catch? If they do this clean, we just saw the first step of a new age of connectivity. They key is a drastic increase in upload rates. From home users and from web servers. With my 50Mb internet, I’m pulling 2-3.5MB/s at best when downloading files from the web or torrents. Is there a technical barrier that I am unaware of that prevents acceptable upload rates? Or is it just throttled to slow the demand for higher download speeds? I would love to see my next game purchase on Steam download at 45 or 50 Mbps.

  • It’s currently more expensive than what I pay for phone, cable and internet rolled together AND it doesn’t come with most of what I watch (HBO, AMC, ESPN, FX). However, if they add my channels, then I may look into it.