Superfast Google Fiber Network Finally Arriving in California
Locations where Google Fiber is installed now and might be installed soon. (Courtesy of Google)
Google Fiber is fast, way faster than the Internet and TV service than most of us have access to now. As Google explains it in an online FAQ on Fiber: "When most Americans connect to the Internet, their signal travels along a local infrastructure built mostly of copper cables. This technology has been around for over 100 years, and it wasn’t built for what we’re trying to use it for today."
Fiber-optic cables made of glass, in contrast, use lasers to transmit information at rates close to the speed of light. The company says: "Google Fiber is capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second -- that’s up to 1,000 megabits per second."
Compare that with the average Internet speed in the United States today, which is 11.9 Mbps, according to a recent report from cloud service provider Akamai. How fast is the fastest average national connection speed? 23.6Mbps, in South Korea.
Other companies have begun building out gigabit fiber networks for homes and businesses, but the work has been slow and sporadic. And the superfast service, where it existed, tended to be very expensive -- sometimes hundreds of dollars a month.
Google first announced plans to get into the broadband business back in 2010. While many cities vied to be the first, Google went went where it figured installation would be most friction-free in terms of bureaucracy. Kansas City was first, then Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. Then came six more cities: Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham and Nashville.
Now a number of California cities are keen to get in on the third wave of installations. Maggie Reardon of CNET has been covering Google Fiber since it launched. She says cities in Middle America use Fiber to attract tech companies. For cities already home to a lot of tech, like those in Silicon Valley, Google Fiber promises to help them stay competitive.
"This is the future," Reardon says. "And if you want to be a center of innovation, and certainly Silicon Valley is known for that, it just makes sense that they would want this kind of infrastructure in the ground."
Reardon says Google saw a U.S. marketplace in which legacy telecoms and cable firms were moving with no sense of urgency.
Dominant players like AT&T and Comcast "were going to incrementally bump up Internet speeds, and really do as little as they could with the infrastructure they had," she says.
But now, Comcast and AT&T can see the writing on the wall. They've both begun to roll out their own faster services in California, where the list of cities keen to get Google Fiber is growing. In addition to San Jose, Google is also in "exploratory talks" with Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Mountain View, San Diego and Irvine.
Google Fiber is Coming to San Jose, Yes?
A recent article in the Mercury News suggested Google has all but officially announced it's installing fiber in San Jose, noting Google has applied for permits to build two "fiber huts" to house its fiber cables. But Google is playing coy. When asked to go public with the relationship, spokeswoman Kelly Mason wrote:
“Obtaining fiber hut permits is an important step in our exploration process, and brings us closer to a decision on bringing Google Fiber to San Jose. We continue to make great progress working alongside city leaders, and hope to share an update soon.”
It's not clear, given what information the company has released, what promise of profit there is for Google with this initiative, but that may not be the point, says Reardon.
"Google's business is all about eyeballs on the Internet," she says. "The faster the network connections are, and the more applications that are developed for the Internet, the more they can sell advertising and monetize those eyeballs."
She adds: "The promise of these faster networks is not really about applications that we think about today, but things that haven't been thought of yet."