When Google Fiber first launched in Kansas City, it did so with the promise of free internet, as long as customers paid for their installation. While subscribers could opt to pay $25 per month for 12 months to cover the $300 installation fee, internet usage was completely free. There was one caveat however: Download speeds were limited to just 5Mbps. Now, Google has replaced this Basic Tier with a 100Mbps plan and rebranded its two other tiers.
Google is pushing forward with its Project Loon plans to bring Internet access to remote parts of India as The Economic Times today reported the company is currently in talks with local telecommunications providers.
The publication spoke with Google India chief Rajan Ananda who confirmed the talks with local providers for Loon without naming specific companies, but the report noted telco BSNL among other unnamed companies are actively included in the discussions.
The Washington Posthas gotten its hands on an invitation that reveals that Google is experimenting with adding a phone service to Google Fiber. Currently, Fiber only has internet and cable, but the addition of a Google Voice-like phone service would bring it in line with packages from other providers.
Google, or rather Alphabet’s Fiber division, is investigating bringing their service to Los Angeles and Chicago. The two cities are significant in that they’d be the largest areas Fiber has worked with. This is hot off the news that AT&T will be expanding gigabit internet to 38 metropolitan areas by the end of next year.
Population-wise, Los Angeles and Chicago are the second and third largest cities in the US, with Google noting a combined population of over six million people. Google notes how Fiber could positively benefit the two cities’ startup scenes.
Currently, the process is still at an investigative state and there is no guarantee Google will bring Fiber to the two cities. The company is going through their checklist process and will be in discussion with city leaders. According to their checklist document, cities have six weeks to meet Fiber’s requirements. Afterwards, Google deliberates and reviews for an unspecified amount of time.
Including these two cities, there are 11 other cities being investigated for Google Fiber deployment. The service is currently up and running in three cities, with upcoming installs in another six. For comparison, AT&T’s gigabit internet service is already up and running in parts of Los Angeles and a total of 18 other areas.
Per an earlier report, Google Fiber is being spun off from Google as part of the Alphabet re-org. The Access and Energy division also includes the OnHub router, Project Link, Project Sunroof, and Project Titan.
Google has announced today that the company is bringing its Fiber Internet service to San Antonio, the second city in Texas to get the service and the company’s “largest Fiber city to date”:
Fast growing cities need Internet speeds that can keep up with their progress. For the 1.4 million residents of San Antonio, one of the biggest and fastest growing cities in the country, this is truer than ever. Which is why, today, we’re proud to announce that Google Fiber is coming to San Antonio—the largest Fiber city to date.
Rollout of Fiber even in the Austin area — which has been an official Fiber city for quite a while — has been very slow, and Google says that it is only just now entering the “design phase” of building out Fiber in the San Antonio area. It’s going to be a while before residential customers can actually get on board.
Most recently, Google announced that it is launching a program to bring completely free internet access to public and affordable housing residents in four of its Google Fiber markets — part of President Barack Obama’s ConnectHome initiative. San Antonio was recently selected for ConnectHome as well.
Sri Lanka’s IT minister, in a statement to Lanka Business Online said: “As a result of this agreement, the entire Sri Lankan island – every village from Dondra to Point Pedro – will be covered with affordable high speed internet using Google Loon’s balloon technology.”
This news comes shortly after the hot-air balloon Internet tech was upgraded to act more like a mesh to provide faster, more consistent Internet coverage. They’ll launch 13 balloons over the next few months, and see the network size grow over time afterwards.
It’s a pretty exciting time for the small nation which typically has little rural coverage. Google’s balloons represent a saving in transmission costs, and will bring LTE network coverage to those who previously had nothing.
Even though Google announced in December of last year that sign-ups for its Fiber TV and Internet service were live to residents of southern and southeastern Austin, they’ve actually been opened and closed several times. Sign-ups are going live in the southeastern section yet again today, according to the official Twitter account for the company’s broadband cable and Internet subsidiary.
Remember ethernet? It’s that technology that can transmit an Internet signal to devices through a cable — so long as they have an ethernet port, that is. Many devices no longer do, to the dismay of a diminishing minority. But ethernet has its benefits, like not being susceptible to reliability issues when there are two walls between your device and your router and/or modem.
For one reason or another, roughly 4.4 billion people around the world are still without reliable, consistent access to an Internet signal. Google’s mission since its very founding has been to “organize the world’s knowledge,” but that isn’t so easy when vast amounts of information can’t even get online, which is one reason why its Project Loon balloons for spreading Internet by hot air balloons exists. The technology giant has made a lot of progress since announcing the project to the public in 2013, with recent tests seeing the balloons travel over 5,000 miles and provide hours of connectivity to locations that had otherwise never seen it before. Today Google is sharing two improvements that it has introduced to the project.
The first is that the team has created a 50-foot launcher called Autolauncher which cuts take-off time down to 15 minutes from 45 previously. The cube-shaped unit (pictured above) does this in a couple ways: it provides tall canvas sides to block winds up to 15 MPH (winds of 6 MPH or greater are prohibitive to take-off), it clamps down the balloon into place until take-off, and it provides a perch for the antenna which provides Internet so as to prevent it from swinging and setting the balloon off its trajectory.
The second improvement to Project Loon is that the balloons can now communicate with one another. Previously to beam Internet to the ground each balloon needed to be within 50 miles of the ground station of a telecommunications company that it would gain its LTE spectrum from. Now, however, the balloons can be anywhere from 250 to 500 miles from a station because balloons closer to a ground station can pass high-frequency signals between each other. This is the same idea as neighborhood mesh networks, where cheap routers can communicate with each other, share WiFi, and continue to communicate with each other even if the public Internet goes down. As a result, Google can now provide Internet to an entire region like West Africa with fewer expensive ground stations than before.
The hope now is to successfully provide a few days of continuous service at a time within its test areas (wind has proven to be a big challenge to doing this), and once it overcomes the challenges to accomplishing that it wants to roll out service to underserved markets such as Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia, ideally by the end of 2016.
Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest and head of Google’s Glass division, recently published an essay at The Wall Street Journal highlighting his thoughts on the future of the Internet:
Today, most technology is reactive. We ask a question and get an answer in return. It’s useful, but it’s also limiting. What if we don’t ask the right question? What if we don’t know we need to ask a question in the first place?
In the future, more conversations will happen proactively. In the case of my water-skiing accident, my smartphone could have combined existing information—including GPS data (on a lake, moving quickly), my medical history (four joint-related surgeries), the temperature of the environment (cold) and flexibility data from my fitness tracker—to predict that I was considering water skiing, calculate the odds of my getting injured, and advise me against it before I even got in the water.
The whole essay is wroth a read, with Fadell telling the story of how he tore a hamstring while water skiing and how a more connected Internet could have prevented it. He doesn’t make any comments on Glass, but he does call out Google’s Project Loon in reference to technologies that will help bring an Internet connection to the 4.4 billion people without one.
Google Fiber’s VP of access services Milo Medin says that while the company is a strong supporter of net neutrality, what consumers really need is legislation that enables greater competition in the broadband market. FierceTelecom reported Medin’s remarks in a keynote speed at the Comptel conference.
No consumers are seeing higher speeds than before the order was passed; no consumers are paying less for their Internet services than what they were paying for; no consumers are seeing higher volume caps that they had before; and no consumers have additional choice of providers than they had before.
Governments cannot legislate for better customer service, he said, but they can pass laws that increase competition in the market, and this is what will make the most difference to consumers … Expand Expanding Close
It’s been a long time coming for the Verizon Nexus 6, but several new pieces of information that popped up this morning and over the weekend (including a quote straight from a Verizon customer service representative) suggest that the device should be seeing a public launch—at least via Internet sales channels—on March 12th. We now have some information on pricing as well, and it looks like the device might just be shipping with Android 5.1 on the Big Red… Expand Expanding Close
Google Fiber has been instigating the growth of fiber Internet in the United States for a few years, and now AT&T is feeling the heat more than ever. Announced at midnight last night, AT&T said it’s finally ready to start selling fiber Internet services in Kansas City and its surrounding areas (via The Kansas City Star). The company finished the rollout of 1Gbps “GigaPower” service in Austin late last year, and now it seems it’s finally time for AT&T to live up to its promise to bring the service to other cities around the country…
Update: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Google is planning to announce Google Fiber expansion to four new cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Charlotte, N.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Nashville, Tenn.
Both Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina have long been listed as potential Google Fiber cities, and Ars Technica reports that these cities could be the next to offer the super high speed Internet and TV service with announcements expected next week and construction possibly beginning as soon as April. Expand Expanding Close
The somewhat surprising prediction isn’t quite as crazy as it sounds. What he means is that the Internet of Things will become so ubiquitous, that much of our interaction with the web will be invisible.
“There will be so many IP addresses…so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it,” he explained. “It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges.”
It’s clearly hyperbole: none of us are going to stop viewing webpages anytime soon. And as Gizmodo wryly insinuates, that “with your permission” part is far from certain when a company makes its money from the data rather than the devices. But there’s certainly a core truth here: with more and more smart devices, we won’t need to interact with them so directly.
Google is, though, not taking its dominant position for granted. Schmidt said that at a time when new apps can spring out of nowhere and become billion dollar businesses, “all bets are off.”
According to a new report from The Information, Google is currently considering investing in SpaceX, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s privately funded company working to make advancements in space travel. Rather than SpaceX projects looking to enable low-cost space travel, Google’s potential investment, according to the report, would be to help “support the development of SpaceX satellites that could beam low-cost Internet around the globe to billions who don’t have it.”
Google has begun a year-long tour of Bangladesh in a 3G-equipped bus which will visit over 500 campuses in order to introduce half a million students to web tools that can help them start and grow a business.
The specially retrofitted bus with 3G Internet will hopefully help give half a million undergraduates a better sense of the power and utility of the Internet, and show them how to plan and collaborate in new ways […]
We hope this program equips the country’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the digital tools that will empower them to start and grow their own projects and businesses online.
Students who want the Google Bus to visit their school or college can make a request on the project’s Google+ page.
Here’s a nice surprise for Shark Week! During a Cloud Roadshow in Boston, Google product manager Dan Belcher revealed some of the search giant’s extreme measures to protect its underwater infrastructure. The company will reportedly wrap its new subaquatic trans-Pacific high-speed internet cables with a Kevlar cover to keep them safe from shark attacks.
Vint Cerf, Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist and general co-father of the Internet, stopped by The Colbert Report on Comedy Central to discuss the origins of the Web as well as where Cerf sees the Internet going forward.
During the conversation, Cerf noted that “about 3 billion people are online right now,” a number which is unimaginably larger than what the Internet was intended for when it was being developed for the military and academia, and Cerf says we have another 4 billion people to go with expanding online access.
While Colbert comically recommended dropping free AOL CD’s to developing countries to promote the Internet around the world, Cerf pointed seriously to the role of the smartphone in spreading Internet access to third world countries. Expand Expanding Close
The FCC has approved Google’s “white space” database operation. This will allow for the company to operate a wireless broadband network with unlicensed TV broadcast spectrum. There are currently 10 other companies working on similar networks, but Google is the latest to complete the Federal Communications Commission’s 45-day testing period. The database will keep track of the TV broadcast frequencies in use so that other wireless broadband devices can take advantage of what’s not being used.
“If a government communications system does not require spectrum at specific times, that spectrum can be freed up for commercial purposes during those times. With dynamic sharing, multiple users, including federal, non-federal and commercial entities, can all access available bands of radio spectrum,” Google wrote.
We’ve seen several reports of Google wanting to bring Internet access to emerging-countries, and the company has now announced a project that will greatly help it accomplish that goal. In a post on the official Google blog, Mike Cassidy announced the next “moonshot” from Google’s mysterious X lab, balloon-powered Internet access.
Google believes that it might be possible to build a ring of balloons that travel around the globe on the stratospheric winds and provide Internet service to the earth below. The company does warn us that this idea is still in the very early days of development, but says that it has built a system that uses balloons carried by winds at altitudes as high as planes and beams Internet at speeds as fast or faster than current 3G networks. Expand Expanding Close
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is now in the middle of a new project that will see the company develop wireless networks in emerging countries including sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Google plans on teaming up with local companies to develop the wireless networks, which are said to use airwaves normally reserved for TV, but will first have to get government approvals:
Some of those efforts revolve around using certain airwaves reserved for TV broadcasts to create wireless networks, but only if government regulators allowed it, these people said. Google has long been involved in public trials to prove the technology—which operates at lower frequencies than some cell networks, allowing signals to be more easily transmitted through buildings and other obstacles and across longer distances—can work. And it has begun talking to regulators in countries such as South Africa and Kenya about changing current rules to allow such networks to be built en masse.
The report mentions that Google is also “building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating system to connect to the wireless networks,” although it didn’t offer up any other specific information on the devices.
It also points out a Google X project that takes advantage of “special balloons or blimps, known as high-altitude platforms, to transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles,” but it’s unclear whether or not the two projects are connected. Expand Expanding Close
“Google is a capitalist country … company,” he corrected himself, to laughter from the audience. “It’s easy to say you would like us to have to have less profits and have that somewhere else. We will comply with the letter of the law, but we’re trying to avoid being doubly and triply taxes, which would prevent us investing in some of the wilder things we do.”
In our continuing series Talking Schmidt we bring you the most insightful lines from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Schmidt, who is promoting his new book The New Digital Age, spoke with NPR over the weekend on the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! program in a rather lighthearted appearance.
NPR host Peter Sagal asked the executive chairman how much Google knew about its users at the top of show, which prompted Schmidt to admit, “Well, as much as you’ll let us know.”
Schmidt also mentioned that the company really doesn’t quite know the definition of evil, from its famous slogan “Don’t Be Evil,” and that he thought it was “the stupidest rule ever” when he joined the company.
Google Fiber’s 1Gbps Internet service, billed on launch as “100 times faster than broadband”, has already been beaten by Japanese ISP Nuro, reports Engadget. Not only is this twice as fast as Google Fiber, it’s also twice as fast as most local-area Ethernet connections. Japanese subscribers can get the service for 4,980 Yen ($51) a month.
Following Google’s announcement that it will bring its speedy Google Fiber network to Austin, Texas, in mid-2014, AT&T has created competition by announcing it plans to bring fiber-optic internet connectivity to the Lone Star state as well.
Today, AT&T announced that in conjunction with its previously announced Project VIP expansion of broadband access, it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. AT&T’s expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives. This expanded investment is not expected to materially alter AT&T’s anticipated 2013 capital expenditures.
AT&T says it believes it will be granted the same privileges as Google in this regard. The full press release is available below:
Currently available in Kansas City, Kan., Google Fiber has proved to be a disruptive new service from the folks out of Mountain View. The service not only offers groundbreaking Internet speeds “100 times faster than broadband,” but also a radical new television service that offers content from a slew of sources: broadcast TV, cable, Netflix, and other Internet services. Google offers three plans: free Internet with a $300 construction fee, $70 per month for Gigabit Internet, and Gigabit + TV for $120 per month that includes a Nexus 7 to use as a remote control.
While we’ve seen brief encounters with the service, BTIG Research (via AllThingsD) has now given us a solid hands-on of the Google’s Fiber TV offering. The research group uses still shots to explain the features; but nonetheless, by the end of it, you’ll probably wish Google Fiber was available in your area. You can check out the video below to see the 905.28mbps down and 794.59mbps up speeds and how the Nexus 7 and TV interfaces work off each other.
Google Inc., announced last spring that Kansas City, Kan., landed the search engine’s super-speed Internet project, but disputed details within the original agreement over wires and fees have created a troublesome hurdle, and lawyers and engineers are still attempting to find middle ground nearly 10 months later.
The local community was nicely suited for hanging Google’s cables, so it vied against 1,100 other United States localities that were courting the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company and its ambitious Internet plans. Subsequently, KCK became known as the first “Gigabyte City” or “Fiber Town.”
“Since we announced our plans to build experimental, ultra high-speed broadband networks, the response has been tremendous. Hundreds of communities and hundreds of thousands of individuals across the country have expressed their interest in the project,” said Google on its Fiber Network website.
“We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people,” Google added on its official blog.
Remember Google Fiber? That little experiment determined to bring “universal, ultra high-speed Internet access”, making for a network “100 times faster than what most Americans have access to”. Seems like those claims might not be too far off if you believe the rather impressive speed test below, posted by Redditor TheTeam who claims to have just received access to the network.
Google announced last year their dreams of “downloading a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes” via the experimental Google Fiber network. The process of building and testing networks in select cities is already underway, with the first city in the community selection process set to be announced by the end of the year. However, an initial experiment at Standford University and the surrounding area started rolling out as early as last month, according to a report from PaloAltoPatch.