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Archive for Thursday, July 26, 2012

Google to offer KC ultra-fast Internet for $70/mo.

July 26, 2012, 10:25 a.m. Updated July 26, 2012, 4:39 p.m.

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— Google Inc. revealed Thursday what it will charge for its long-awaited, ultra-fast Internet service in Kansas City: $70 per month.

The service is intended as a showcase for what's technically possible and as a testbed for the development of new ways to use the Internet. Bypassing the local cable and phone companies, Google has spent months and an unknown amount of money pulling its own optical fiber through the two-state Kansas City region.

After vetting many contenders, Google announced last year that the Kansas City metro area would be the first to get its "Fiber for Communities" broadband service.

Some cities had used gimmicks to get the company's attention. Topeka informally renamed itself "Google, Kansas." A group in Baltimore launched a website that used Google's mapping service to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and give their reasons for wanting the service. Hundreds of groups on Facebook implored Google to come to their cities.

The $70 monthly fee will pay for "gigabit" Internet service, about 100 times faster than a basic cable modem. For another $50 per month, Google will provide cable-TV-like service over the fiber, too, and a tablet computer that works as a remote.

The channel line-up includes Nickelodeon, Discovery, Bravo, Starz and Showtime (which may require additional fees) but is missing AMC, HBO, CNN, Fox News and ESPN. Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres wouldn't say why the channels were missing, but said the line-up would expand.

Google said it will only start hooking up households in neighborhoods where a sufficient number of people want service. Kansas City residents have six weeks to pre-register for service, after which Google will decide which areas have enough interest.

Google will also offer a slower Internet option, at a DSL-like 5 megabits per second, with no monthly fee to households that pay a $300 installation fee. The free service is guaranteed for at least seven years, but is available only in neighborhoods where enough people have pre-registered.

The $70 fee is more than what cable or phone companies charge for basic Internet service, but the service is also much faster. "Gigabit" speeds, or 1,000 megabits per second, are generally unavailable from other companies. One exception is the city-owned electric utility in Chattanooga, Tenn., which has pulled its own fiber and sells gigabit service for $350 per month.

Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James, who attended the news conference Google held in a converted yoga studio in midtown Kansas City, was clearly pleased with the announcement.

"We now have an opportunity to take a giant step and if we don't it's all on us," James said. "It's going to be a great educational tool ... that's going to create innovators and entrepreneurs, and that's exactly what we want."

There are few ways for consumers to take advantage of gigabit speeds. For everyday activities such as Web surfing, email and video-watching, there will likely be no substantial difference. The higher speeds will help with video sharing and online backups.

Google is hoping that the network could help the development of other advanced applications that can take advantage of the high speeds. It's also hoping to spur phone and cable companies into upgrading their own networks.

"Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that's spurred innovation over the last decade," Milo Medin, Google's vice president of Access Services, said in a blog post.

However, it's expensive to pull optical fiber compared with using existing phone and cable lines to provide Internet service. Verizon Communications Inc. is the only major U.S. telecommunications company to have connected homes directly to fiber. Wall Street analysts say that project, which has cost $23 billion, is not paying off.

Verizon has stopped adding new communities to its network, dubbed FiOS. It charges $70 per month for download speeds of 15 megabits per second, less than 2 percent the speed of Google's gigabit.

Justin Venech, spokesman for Time Warner Cable, which provides service in Kansas City, said Thursday that he watched Google's announcement online and said he didn't see "too many things that jumped out at me beyond the speed."

"Kansas City has been competitive for video and broadband services for a long time," Venech said. "We offer advanced products and services today and we have experienced local employees delivering local services."

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Peter Svensson reported from New York.

Comments

posternutbag 2 years, 4 months ago

+1 As a very satisfied customer of LawrenceFreeNet, I am really excited about the prospects of Josh's new venture with Wicked Broadband. Looking forward to the day when I can get a Wicked Broadband connection at my home! I highly recommend these guys.

NotASquishHead 2 years, 4 months ago

Always love all of Joshua Montgomery's shady for-profit companies covered under a non-profit umbrella. Community Wireless... Freenet.. Wickedbroadband... Amazing. What a scam.

Wiry 2 years, 4 months ago

Wouldn't deal with Freenet if it was really free and truly non-profit as you lied to CC about it being to get free right-of-way usage.

ljwhirled 2 years, 4 months ago

Trolls.

Freenet has been working great for me for years. Looking forward to fiber.

5thStPhoggers 2 years, 4 months ago

"Google is hoping that the network could help the development of other advanced applications that can take advantage of the high speeds. It's also hoping to spur phone and cable companies into upgrading their own networks."

Great news! Sometimes companies need a spur, especially when they feel like they have no reason to upgrade. Good on Freenet as well.

parrothead8 2 years, 4 months ago

I'm almost certain Google's site says both KCK and KCMO are getting this, so I'm not sure what your beef is.

otto 2 years, 4 months ago

Brian Mclendan (one of Googles top dogs ) graduated from LHS in 1982

Curtis Lange 2 years, 4 months ago

They're both getting it; might want to do your research...which Google conveniently has laid out in layman's terms on their Google Fiber website.

awesomex 2 years, 4 months ago

Yeah you just have your facts wrong. Kansas City, Kansas gets it first. This is directly from the Google Fiber website. "We announced that Google Fiber would be coming to Kansas City, KS first, which gave us a head start on our work there. We'll begin building Fiber to homes in Kansas City, KS first, but we plan to have service to fiberhoods in Kansas City, MO in early 2013."

Richard Payton 2 years, 4 months ago

Google Fiber Store 1814 Westport Road KCMO 64111. Hours Sun-Fri 12-8PM and Saturday 10-8PM where you can experience for yourself what is being offered.

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