Google Fiber’s blazing 1Gbps Internet and TV service promises to pair consumers with tremendous bandwidth speeds while putting the pressure on national ISP giants.
Google Fiber offers consumers Internet speeds of up to 1Gbps (or 1,000Mbps), 135 times the U.S. average of 7.4Mbps, according to Akamai. That translates to downloading a full 1080p movie in one minute. Google Fiber also provides a TV service that boasts of 2TB of DVR storage as well as the capability to record eight programs simultaneously. Plans and price points range from $120 a month for the 1Gbps bandwidth service and TV package, to a free Internet-only service with modest download speeds of 5Mbps.
Google Fiber is currently only available in Kansas City, Mo.; Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, are slated for induction in 2014. The main impediment to greater expansion is the necessity of upgrading existing infrastructure. Google Fiber’s high Internet speeds are dependent on fiber-optic line, a costly upgrade from standard coaxial cable. Google’s plan to mitigate this cost involves consumers pledging to sign up for service prior to the infrastructure being built, ensuring that Google can turn a profit in that area over time.
While Google is upgrading select cities to fiber optics, most of the country remains limited to coaxial cable lines. Fortunately, the latest upgrade to the coaxial Internet specification, DOCSIS 3.1, offers a potential for astonishingly quick download speeds of up to 10Gbps. The specifications released by Cablelabs last month necessitate a new generation of modem hardware, which, according to Multichannel, is expected to hit the consumer market in 2015. Whether or not ISPs will offer speeds that match the hardware’s capability has yet to be determined.
For those residing outside of Google Fiber’s limited reach, another option for ultra-fast Internet speed exists in established ISPs. According to Arstechnica, Los Angeles is planning to overhaul its Internet infrastructure and lay fiber optics throughout the city, allowing ISPs the resources to match Google Fiber’s 1Gbps speeds. The construction, which is estimated to cost upwards of $5 billion, is expected to begin next year, but no definitive date of completion has been announced.
While Google Fiber is currently limited to just three cities, its impact on telecommunications juggernauts like Verizon and Comcast is already being felt. According to Cnet, shortly after Google Fiber was announced to expand into Austin, AT&T began offering its “GigaPower” service, promising 1Gbps download speeds for the Austin area by 2014. It seems possible that Google Fiber’s ability to induce such direct competition will positively influence the market for consumers.