Will you have Access to the Fastest Internet on the Planet?
By Bruce Harmon, Ph.D., CTU Doctoral Chair of Computer Science
One of Google’s latest and most ambitious projects is Google Fiber, a new Internet and cable TV service that may revolutionize how we access and pay for high-speed Internet connectivity.
Speed of Light
It’s only in two major cities now, but if it does arrive in your town, Google Fiber will offer Internet connection speeds that are nearly 100 times faster than average. The average Internet connection delivers around six megabytes of data per second. By replacing traditional Internet wiring with fiber optic cables, however, Google Fiber transmits Internet signals at the speed of light. Its service can deliver connection speeds of approximately 1 gigabyte per second - speeds that, until now, were only available to large companies for thousands of dollars a month.
Crowdsourcing to “Fiberhoods”
Hear this: Google Fiber’s most unique quality may not even be its super-fast Internet. Uniquely, Google is managing its new service using crowdsourcing to select the cities where it will roll out its Fiber service. To get Google Fiber, a minimum number of residents within a well-populated area must sign up for the service in advance. From a business standpoint, this ensures that Google receives enough commitment from customers to justify the investment of installing the fiber networks.
The crowdsourcing model means that little advertising on Google’s part is needed as net-centric neighbors are incentivized to spread the word and get other neighbors to sign up. The “fiberhoods,” or neighborhoods that have the highest pre-registration rate receive Google Fiber sooner. The residents of Kansas City happened to win Google Fiber’s first rollout.
Faster and Cheaper
Google offers three different Fiber plans: Gigabit-speed Internet plus TV service for $120/month, gigabit-speed Internet alone for $70/month, or, if you just want regular Internet speeds, you can opt to pay a $300 installation fee over a one-year period. Plus, Google promises to provide the regular-speed plan for free - you pay just the installation fee one time - to customers signed up to seven years.
It’s possible that Google Fiber may transform the way all Internet service is provided in the future because of these attributes:
- Low-cost. The service is low-cost, the affordability of which may make the industry more competitive as a whole.
- Crowdsourced. Google Fiber’s accessibility is based on crowdsourcing, a cousin of crowdfunding, making the service available to a wider audience and potentially including rural communities.
- Future potential. Its high speed may be the harbinger for gigabit Internet service, enabling capabilities like online learning nationwide.
People are asking when Google Fiber will make it to their areas, and, of course, companies like Time Warner are rushing to speed up their services to catch up. With comments like, “totally awesome,” it sounds like Google Fiber is pleasing the crowds—now let’s see what they do with all that speed.
Bruce Harmon, Ph.D., is the University Doctoral Chair of Computer Science at Colorado Technical University. He earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science from the University of Colorado and his M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University. He earned a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering at the United States Air Force Academy. After 9 years in the Air Force, he worked in defense and later at top-tier commercial companies for 17 years both in research and executive leadership positions. Learn why he’s IN.
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Image credit: Flickr/Jlhopgood