Google Fiber is impressive, says analysts, but when will it launch for the rest of us?

November 24, 2012
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You might have heard of Google’s latest foray into the Internet and entertainment industries. Google wants its presence to become even more pervasive in your home. You already use Google Search, an Android device, Gmail and all kinds of services. But current broadband connections are not enough for Google. With Google Fiber, the company wants you to run these services on their own pipes.

Google Fiber is basically a fiber-optic service that offers 1 Gbps of speed both down- and upstream. For $70 per month, you can get the basic Internet service, but an additional $50 monthly also gets you a subscription to Google’s cable TV killer. Sure, Google’s content partners are still limited at this time. But given Google’s industry clout, it’s probably just a short time until they get more content into Google Fiber.

BTIG Research went to Kansas City — where Google is doing its initial run of the service — to look into how Google Fiber fares. Their conclusion: it’s awesome. Business Insider gives us a glimpse of what the analysts think of Google’s latest broadband service. Here is a quick summary.

  • Installers set an appointment and make it on time. You might have been used to having to wait all day for the cable guy to fix your installation. With Google Fiber, they arrive on time so you need not waste half a day waiting during their window period.
  • Installation is two-step. Different teams take care of the outside and indoor setups.
  • The first step involves connecting your house to the utility pole with fiber-optic cables. These are literally a single thread of glass. It’s amazing how these pipes can carry data at 1 Gbps.
  • The second step involves installing sleek TV and Internet boxes in your house. Who said Apple was the only company into great looking hardware? Google’s boxes are not like the usual cable or satellite boxes, which are bulky and cumbersome. The boxes support WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, reducing the need for wires.
  • The “TV” services comes with several functionalities. These include a channel guide with DVR functionality and a recommendation engine. The box comes with 2 Terabytes of storage for all your DVR needs.
  • The service comes with a free Nexus 7. The tablet acts as the Google Fiber remote and the TV remote, as well. Note that this comes with a two-year subscription contract.

Limitations

Google Fiber is far from perfect, as it still lacks some services and content you would expect Google to have taken care of at this point. For instance, there’s still no YouTube integration, nor can you access content from HBO. But if you’re out for raw speed at this point,then Google Fiber will be sure to excite.

At this time, Google Fiber is running only within Kansas City, although the company looks serious in expanding to more areas and regions soon. I attended a conference keynoted by Google VP for infrastructure Dr. Eric Brewer this October, and he says Fiber will connect even the remotest of islands in the next five to ten years. Is this an ambitious plan by Google? And with this plan, should telcos and cable providers be afraid?

Word has it that Google has made a deal with the city government for a city-wide WiFi service. This might render cellular data plans obsolete if Google Fiber plus city-wide WiFi service will be the norm in the future.

The BTIG analysts say that in their site surveys, cable providers are already going door to door to check if customers are satisfied with their service. This only means that providers will need to step up their game in order to better compete against Google Fiber.

Are you excited for Google’s latest broadband and TV service? Do you think this is how everyone will get online and watch content a few years down the line?

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