In 2010, the world watched as Google Fiber announced its ultra-cheap fiber-optic internet service in Kansas City, which would bring 1 Gbps internet to residents at just $70 a month. At the time, many houses in the area had internet connections which were over 100 times slower. Needless to say, the casual observers who watched as Fiber lit up in Kansas could only sit and be jealous of the residents with access to this ultra-high speed network.
However, Google’s goal was not just to generously give people cheap, high speed internet and make everyone else jealous. Google wants to see everyone connected to a high speed internet link. The search giant makes money off of almost anyone who uses the internet, thanks to the AdSense ads which are on almost all websites, which Google makes a cut of the profits from.
Over time, Google hopes to increase competition with its fiber service, to drive the price of broadband down, and the speeds up across all of the United States. Today, Google offers its Fiber service in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, Utah; and it is preparing to offer service in even more places.
And it’s working: Since Google has started its Fiber service, cable giants like Comcast and AT&T have become much more interested in offering high speed connections.
Most recently, we have seen Comcast announce a new 2 Gbps symmetrical (same upload and download) in Atlanta, Georgia. Its new fiber service will launch next month, and they have announced their hopes to provide 1 Gbps service to customers in almost their entire current footprint (which is huge). While we don’t know details on the pricing of the service yet, we definitely expect it to be competitive. And when Comcast is getting competitive, you know the market must be changing.
Previously, we’ve seen AT&T step up to the plate with its GigaPower fiber optic network in Austin, Texas, which is set to directly compete with Google Fiber. AT&T has said that we can expect to see GigaPower in 21 more cities in the near future. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to quite get the idea yet, as it appears they want to charge users $30/m extra to agree to not use your internet usage data in targeted advertising.
Even some smaller providers are taking advantage of the newfound consumer interested in ultra high-speed internet. One of these is Ting, known for its success as a mobile service provider, has now “promised to fix home Internet access like [they’re] trying to fix mobile.”
It would appear that Google is getting its wish: more people getting access to faster internet, which means more revenue for them. But perhaps the unspoken side effect of this endeavor will have even greater lasting effects on the US economy and technology; as the country’s average internet speeds continue to rise, and as we see more and more competition in the broadband business, perhaps we will begin to see a rise of tech companies in towns whose economies are currently suffering. Maybe we’ll even see the United States jump up a few spots in the global broadband indexes. Just maybe.