Gigabit Internet: How Close Are We to A Fiber-Connected World

Google Fiber high speed internet

It was . Google announced its plans to build an infrastructure that will provide ultra-high-speed broadband to a few lucky users in Kansas City, Kansas. This is Google Fiber, the ultra-fast Internet service from the search giant. With this development, one has to wonder if we are there yet?

In terms of the fastest speeds in broadband, the United States, despite being a giant in technology, is ranked nowhere. South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, etc., have broad band connections with an average speed around 50 Mbps.

As reported by the NY Times in a recent article, South Korea already had plans to build nearly 1 Gbps speed into every home in the country; already, about 1500 homes in 5 cities have been connected to 1 Gbps Internet. We don’t know how far the program has progressed since then.

In the recent analysis, South Korea already has the fastest Internet speeds in the world, with Hong Kong competing close behind. That country’s Internet is easily 200 times faster than an average US household’s Internet connection. Moreover, the country does provide wireless Internet in the form of LTE, HSPA+, and WiBro, which is something that South Koreans developed in-house. WiBro provides peak download speeds of 128 Mbps and upload rate of 56 Mbps.

How is Google Fiber affecting our Internet speeds? Google is the search giant, more or less a software company, rather than a telecom company like Verizon or AT&T. Those telecom companies we have are already entrenched. They are actively building infrastructure to provide us with LTE and LTE Advanced, which is the next generation in wireless communication technologies.

In this world, Google is coming up with an old concept in a new fashion—wired Internet through fiber optics. Two cities already have this Internet service—Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. The next stop for Fiber is the capital of Texas, Austin.

Which Cities Will Get Google Fiber?

On , Google announced its plan to build a Fiber broadband network that will provide “100 times the speed” most Americans have ever experienced. It then went into sort of a voting process, in which Google wanted to figure out which city was the most enthusiastic about signing up. Over 1,100 cities have been there in the initial phase and out of those cities, Kansas City, Kansas was the most enthusiastic, so they got Fiber first.

The website that Google set up to gather votes from people and governments is obsolete now. Here are the details of the responses they received over the months the voting process was going on.

Votes accumulated by Google Fiber

As the months progressed, the votes accumulated, and the kind of enthusiasm that Kansas City residents showed interested Google. Also, Google is able to develop the Fiber infrastructure at lower cost in Kansas City, and that is beneficial for the company. Other cities soon followed, as you can see here:

KCK (Kansas City, Kansas): selected on .
Kansas City, Missouri: selected in .
Olathe, Kansas: selected on .
Austin, Texas: selected on .
Provo, Utah:  .
North Kansas City, Missouri:  .

Pre-registration to Google Fiber ended on . People who pre-registered for the service can select their plan and get Fiber installed in their home.

What Is In Fiber?

Why don’t you visit the Fiber website itself at fiber.google.com to know in detail about the plans and what is included in them? In short, there are three plans, Gigabit+TV for 120 dollars per month that gives TV and the high speed Internet; Internet only for 70 dollars per month; and Free Internet at only the 300 dollar one time set-up fee (the speed in this case is up to 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload). The network box used to provide Internet service is below. For TV, there is a separate Set Top box.

Google Fiber Network box

In any case, the Fiber plans are much better than the plans offered by your regular broadband providers. It takes us back to , when Google launched Gmail as an experimental service (yes, on the Fools’ day itself).

At that time, webmail was highly inconvenient, with Yahoo, Hotmail, and others offering between 2 and 8 MB of storage space. Yahoo even had a paid premium version offering up to 25 MB of storage. When Google announced a completely free, webmail with nearly a thousand times more storage as offered by others, everyone was forced to offer what its customers deserved—more storage and flexibility. Gmail, as expected, became a pioneer in webmail.

The same is expected from Fiber.

Fretting Giants in Broadband

AT&T logoDo you have any idea of the speeds offered by other major players in broadband in the United States?
AT&T has its fiber network being built across the country under the brand of U-Verse. Verizon has the fastest fiber network in the country under the FiOS brand. What is the speed offered by these services? AT&T U-Verse provides the maximum speed of 24 Mbps in download in its Max Turbo plan for 66 dollars per month. Verizon FiOS goes a little beyond that and provides about 29.4 Mbps download (average speed).

Verizon

Availability of Google Fiber has really rocked the world of these giants. As soon as the news of the availability of 1 Gbps Internet was available in Austin, AT&T also did the same thing. The company announced its plans to offer 1 Gbps Internet in Austin, Texas on April 9, 2013, right after Google’s announcement. It definitely looks like these broadband giants already have the equipment needed to provide high speed Internet service, but as long as a competitor doesn’t come along, they do not do that.

We are looking forward to seeing Verizon also offering high speed Internet.

The Future

With the fastest broadband technology widely available today, downloading a regular movie would take only a few minutes. A high-definition movie (1080p HD) on the other hand takes much more than that. But the future holds more than HD; we will be seeing 4K, UHD, and 8K content in the coming days, which go beyond a few GBs to a few TBs in size.

Even with the fastest Internet connection today, these movies will take days to download. Hence, it goes without saying how important it is for us to get even higher speeds. Google Fiber is a step toward that goal. If we get to see other companies also providing us with faster Internet connections, we may be able to use the Internet for everything.

The promise of fast Internet is entirely different. We will no longer have to download movies to watch them. Services like Netflix and YouTube will not lag on you. You will no longer have to sit waiting for anything.

In order to download a movie of size 4 GB, wait 34 seconds, while with 10 Mbps connection, the same movie needs about 57 minutes to download. In case of a 4K movie, the size may go up to 1000 GB (1 TB, mostly uncompressed), and 10 Mbps connection will require about 10 days to download it, while the Gigabit Internet will take only 2 hours to download that movie.

In Conclusion

We are looking forward to a future of extremely high data density. Downloading movies and other large files to create a personal storage is worthless. Instead, you should go for online services to watch movies directly. With the advent of high speed connections, voice over IP (VOIP) will soon replace your generic telephony system. Also, the storage required on your computer will be much less than that required today. Wait and watch out for more updates on Google Fiber, AT&T fiber network, and others.