Google Fiber will deliver “Gigabit” Internet and TV connectivity to multiple metro-Atlanta cities as early as 2016, laying out fiber-optic infrastructure across Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna. The new Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) network will deliver service 100 times faster than basic broadband.
To warrant the prerequisite capital and infrastructure investment, build-out will be demand-based. Fiber connections will enter through multiple aggregators, with cables then branching out to neighborhoods and individual residences (much of it strung on new and existing utility poles, but some of it buried). Google’s efforts in California have already been thwarted, as the California Public Utilities Commission denied Google’s petition to utilize existing poles as a mere “Video Service Provider,” partly because such Providers are not subject to the same mandatory safety standards as cable providers. The CPUC may, however, modify that result after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reclassified broadband service as a federal Title II common carrier service, one which Google will be providing.
As most can attest, pay-TV and Internet service provider competition has largely been illusory. Consumer power in terms of both service offering level and price may increase, however, as both Comcast and AT&T make a concerted effort to build high-speed networks in areas where Google Fiber exists or will expand. In Kansas City and other locales, AT&T is offering “GigaPower” service to match the speed of Google Fiber and compete on the basis of cost.
Comcast has offered ultra-high-speed Internet to business customers since 2010, but is readying 2 Gbps “Gigabit Pro,” its first public and residential offering in the category. Pricing may vary, and expect to pay for the extra speed. The Comcast service is expected to cost more than Google’s, but less than its own current 505 Mbps service. In contrast to Google Fiber, all of metro-Atlanta (and not just certain targeted neighborhoods) can subscribe.
Comcast claims its service will be “symmetrical,” with equal download and upload speeds twice those anticipated from Google Fiber (in the experience of Richardson Sixth attorney, Mark Richardson, uploads with prior Comcast service often occurred at less than one-half the speed of downloads). Richardson received a mailing from Comcast at the end of May referring to the service as “Multi-Gig.”
The revenue model for Google Fiber TV, as with other Google endeavors, will emphasize targeted advertising selected and sent in real time to engender connection with the viewer on the basis of geographic location, type of show being watched, viewing history, etc. As with customized Internet search engine ads, the advertiser need only pay for the ads actually shown, and can limit the number of times an ad is served to a given viewer.
Google Gigabit Internet will cost $70 per month, with Gigabit Internet plus TV $120 per month. A $300 construction fee for either package is waived with a one-year service commitment. Google will focus on residential customers, but hopes to offer a small business product, as well. Business customers will receive 1 Gbps upstream and downstream speeds, with dedicated phone, e-mail, and chat support for $100 per month.
For those who can somehow get by with 1 Gbps service, Comcast will also provide a lower-tier offering comparable to Google Fiber and AT&T GigaPower.