Google Fiber is About to Shake Up the Cable Industry

March 13, 2014 - Written By Jeremiah Nelson

Google Fiber started as an experiment, first in Palo Alto, California, in 2011, and then moving to Kansas City in 2013. The major cable companies scoffed at Google’s plans. Time Magazine thought Google Fiber was a publicity stunt; that Google was merely trying to force cable companies to improve their customer service and increase their internet speeds. Google didn’t have technicians to install Fiber, they didn’t have trucks to roll out, and they didn’t have call centers full of representatives to handle customer complaints. This experiment couldn’t possible succeed. Except that Google Fiber is doing just that.

Google Fiber is currently available in Kansas City, both in Kansas and Missouri. Surrounding suburbs and counties also have access to gigabit internet and video services from Google. Austin, TX and Provo, UT are getting Fiber as well, announced as expansion cities in April of 2013. Google announced last month that they had “invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.” Cities in Arizona, California, Georgia, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah are exploring ways to bring Fiber to their citizens. Google is encroaching on cable companies’ territory and stealing their customers, slowly but surely.

Analysts are taking notice, too. Google Fiber is the real deal, they say. Evercore Partners is an independent investment firm in San Francisco, and they project that Google could bring on 3 million new customers over the next seven to nine years. That kind of growth would vault Fiber into the top 10 telecommunication carriers in the U.S.

With Fiber, Google provides 1 Gbps synchronous download/upload internet speeds with over their fiber optic lines. There are three different tier options that customer can choose from. Two of those provide gigabit internet speeds at a price that is equivalent to what consumers currently play for internet services. The lowest tier option gives subscribers a 5Mbps download/1Mbps upload service at $0 per month. New subscribers only have to pay a one time $300 construction fee. Google is using the free internet tier to reach lower income housing areas, and city officials are pining for the new tech business that true gigabit internet connections can draw to their municipalities.

Google Fiber is rolling out slowly, and may not reach everyone in the country. If it does, it will take decades. Google is making waves with Fiber, though, and it could change the cable internet and TV industry in ways that consumers really want.