Google have been making some waves recently with their Google Fiber project, what started off as a test in Kansas City is fast becoming a real roll out of a Fiber network. Sure, it started in one city and made the rest of us extremely jealous but, now it's heading to Austin, Texas and Google are buying out a failed Fiber ISP in Provo, Utah to bring them into the Google Fiber fold. Sure, two extra markets does not constitute a massive a network but, it's a start and we've no doubt that given the chance to do so , Google will roll out their asymmetric fiber network everywhere they can do.
It's not just their ridiculous speeds that Google are making noise about but, also their pricing as well. Those of you on AT&T and others will feel the sting of "fast" internet and services every month they reach into your bank account. More and more of us are relying on the Internet in our homes, Netflix, Digital Game Distribution, Video Chat, Skype and more so, why the hell are we still paying more for it? Google bucked this trend and, as you'll see below, their pricing in Kansas is pretty damn tasty.
Let's take AT&T for a direct example here, to get a 6mbps downstream, TV and Phone is $79 a month. This is their "Elite" package, not quite sure what makes it elite as it's $9 more expensive than Gigabit Internet on Google's Fiber. To put things into perspective, Google's Fiber is roughly 166.6 times faster than AT&T's Elite package...for less money. Of course, you're getting TV as well but, what can you do with a 6mbps downstream? Well, not a lot. Skype family and friends who've flown the nest? Nope. Download games off of Steam? You have to be kidding. To get anything close to that sort of performance on AT&T you'll have to pony up $151 a month for their "U-Verse" package which delivers 12mbps speeds. Again, this comes with TV and Phone. To get just internet, that'll be $54.95 a month and you'll get just 24mbps, or around 2.5 per cent of Google Fiber's downstream.
I'm not even go into data caps here, any ISP that imposes such a thing should take a good hard look at themselves, caps make little to no difference to the overall performance of the network, it's just another one of those ways to nickel and dime you. I'm a little different as I live in the UK and enjoy TV, phone and 30mbps down, 2.5mbps up for £40, which is around $60. That's still pretty expensive when you think about it, although I have no data cap, I am throttled during "peak times" which is normally the evenings but, I have to download 8GB in that 7-hour time period, and even then it is only downloads that are throttled. How many of you are under a data cap?
AT&T certainly aren't alone in charging ridiculous prices for a sub-standard product, they all do it. What's perhaps a little worrying is that these ISPs are going to roll out their own competing networks. Please. How on earth can AT&T et al hope to compete with Google's Fiber if they don't dramatically reduce their prices? Right now, the problem is that Google don't have a wide-enough spread network, in fact it's pretty small but, with more markets and a more a wide-spread distribution they could really give the ISPs something to worry about - if they haven't done already.
Unless the ISPs learn to lighten their prices and stop being so greedy, Google will end up becoming the major player in the fiber business, and perhaps broadband as a whole. No longer is the Internet the reserve of geeks or those obsessed with online shopping. It's for all of us. It should be treated as such, not a luxury product that companies and networks can use to nickel and dime us for every kilobyte.
What are some of your horror stories when it comes to broadband, what's the worst ISP you've ever used and would you swap to Google Fiber if it came to your City?