Google Fiber, the service that promises gigabit speed Internet connections, is not just in Kansas City anymore. It's in Olathe, Kansas as well.
For some reason Google decided to launch the service in the unlikely setting of Kansas, probably because it's relatively small, somewhat central and a great place to beta test a system that will one day bring an actual fibre optic fibre into every home that subscribes.
The costs for customers vary. You can get a free, comparatively slow Internet connection for seven years by paying $300 for the installation — a cost of $25 per month for a year. If you opt for the second tier you get free installation and full gigabit internet for about $70 per month. The top tier, available for $120 per month, includes Google's TV service.
It's a bit of a pyramid scheme. When enough people sign up for the service in a given range to make it viable then Google will expand into to that area — a business model that would make more sense if they skipped Kansas and set up in San Francisco or New York City. Obviously Google is banking on sheer numbers making this a viable business proposition because right now it's been estimated that Google is spending about $2,500 per home to bring in a fibre optic line, modem, etc. The cost will come down as more people register and the cost of parts and equipment goes down, but right now you'd have to subscribe to the second tier of service for 35 years for Google to break even.
It seems insane, but in the long term this could be an extremely viable — and profitable — business model. Don't forget, telecoms initially lost money bringing cable television to people's homes starting in the 1950s. They've since recouped their initial investment hundreds of times over.
Google Fiber is not coming to Canada any time soon, but no doubt it would be welcome. Canadians already have some of the most expensive internet, cable and wireless in the world, and $120 per month for Google Fiber is not much more than people are paying for service that's already on the slow side compared to other countries.
As for how well it's working, reviewers have verified that it's incredibly fast. One reviewer opened 10 high definition movies in different windows and had them all playing at once with no trace of lag. He could move the timing bar at the bottom of the screen back and forth and watch the video buffer almost instantly.
A number of start-ups have relocated to Kansas City to take advantage of the fibre for next generation online business concepts that can actually make use of those speeds. However, given that gigabit connections move data faster than computers or wireless routers can even use right now, most people can't even take advantage of how fast their Google Fiber connections really are. The word "overkill" has come up to describe the service, although it's a good bet that technology will catch up over the years and people will one day make extremely good use of Google Fiber's speeds — assuming that Google is committed enough to the idea to sacrifice untold billions of dollars to continue building the infrastructure, and doesn't decide to shut it down like it was other projects.
It took decades for cable television to provide any kind of coast-to-coast coverage in Canada and the U.S., and it will likely take Google decades to provide the same level of coverage in the U.S. unless there's some kind of breakthrough that significantly cuts installation costs. Google Fiber may one day come to Canada, but I wouldn't cut your slow, expensive service just yet — right now it's all we've got.
An internet minute
An incredible infographic by Intel maps out exactly what happens in one minute of Internet time, and what internet usage will like in the near future. It's a staggering look at how the web is used. Every minute:
• 639,800 gigabits of global IP data is transferred.
• Six new Wikipedia articles are published.
• 1,300 new mobile phone users come online.
• 20 people are victims of hacks or identity thefts.
• 47,000 apps are downloaded (all platforms)
• 204 million emails are sent.
• 61,141 hours of music is downloaded.
• 20 million photos are viewed, and 3,000 more photos are uploaded.
• Facebook registers 277,000 logins.
• Google processes over two million searches.
• 1.3 million videos are being viewed on YouTube, and 30 hours of video are being uploaded.
• Over 100 people register for LinkedIn and 320 people register for Twitter.
The growth numbers are truly staggering. In 2013 there are roughly seven billion networked devices connected to the web. By 2015 it's expected to be closed to 15 billion devices. Also by 2015 it's expected to take five years to view all the video content that crosses IP networks each second.