About 200 people attended the a presentation, explaining how Google Fiber will work, Thursday morning at the company's new Westport Road offices. And judging by the dozen or so rounds of applause for various Google speakers, it appeared that everybody came away satisfied with what the new ultra-fast fiber-optic Internet service will mean for the area. Perhaps drawing the most applause was the price: $70 per month for one-GB-per-second service, and $120 per month for Internet and a new TV system called Google Fiber Television. There's a $300 installation fee.
Google had said from the beginning that fiber will provide service 100 times faster than the average broadband speed. But showing is better than telling, so Google employees demonstrated the searing pace of Fiber with head-to-head competitions between a standard connection and fiber. With Fiber, 100 gigantic digital photos were uploaded to Google+ in about five seconds. A three-minute video was uploaded nearly as fast. The audience of VIPs, tech-industry employees and media was mesmerized by the speed.
The nuts and bolts of Google Fiber and their plans for hooking up neighborhoods is after the jump.
Cost: Because it runs through fiber-optic cables rather than coaxial or anything else already in your home, Google will need to install Fiber into each home and office. For just Fiber Internet, the price is $70. For Google Fiber Television, it's $120. The installation cost is $300, but Google said they would waive the fee for early customers. If homeowners want to keep their regular Internet speed but set their house up for Fiber in the future, they can pay the $300 installation fee and receive free average speed broadband (about 5 MBs) for seven years. Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, said that packages for businesses would be released in the future.
Google Fiber Television: Google also announced the launch of Google Fiber Television, a new cablelike video service. Customers will use a set-top box like a DVR that can record eight shows at once, store 500 hours of HD programming, and acts as a Wi-Fi router. The service will feature tens of thousands of hours of on-demand shows and movies as well as programs made specifically for Fiber by community organizations. Shows can be watched on several TVs at once as well as on tablets. Another element of the service that drew huge cheers was the remote. Customers will receive a Google Nexus 7 at no additional cost that will serve as the controller.
Speed: During a live speed test, Fiber was uploading at around 750 MBs per second and downloading at more than 900. As one of the speakers put it: If two cars were driving from Kansas City to New York, and one was operating at normal Internet speeds with others on Fiber, the Fiber car would get to New York before the other car made it out of Missouri. During a demonstration, they downloaded a 500 MB attachment in a few seconds, while the standard connection calculated a 13-minute time. When browsing, it takes longer to type the website into the browser than it does to load.
Hooking it up: At Google Fiber's offices at 1820 Westport Road, they've set up the Fiber Space, a place to test and show how the service will benefit customers. It looks like an Ikea store, but you're encouraged to play with the TV and computers. It gives you the chance to watch Netflix streaming load in the blink of an eye and drool over laptops as you browse the Internet faster than you ever imagined.
But getting Fiber in your own home will take some time. The company announced that they will start plugging neighborhoods into the network where the desire for it is greatest. To determine where to start installing, Google has broken up Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri, into small units called "Fiberhoods." Residents that want Fiber can preregister their address (and pay a $10 fee) and encourage their neighbors to preregister, too. At the end of the six weeks, Google will announce where it's going to begin installation.