Gigabit Internet and Google Fiber TV. Those two new services are being launched by the technology giant in the Kansas City metro area, as it pushes the envelope on Net service and services.
The company said it has been in conversation with potential customers in Kansas City for over a year, and is now unveiling three packages. Service installation will be rolled out throughout the year.
Gigabit, DVR, Free
One of the three packages is Gigabit + Google TV, with hundreds of channels, "tens of thousands of shows on demand" in HD, and a DVR with eight tuners and 2 terabytes of storage . The service also throws in a Nexus 7 tablet to be used as the remote control. The cost: $120 monthly, with the $300 construction fee waived.
A second service is Gigabit Internet, which the company described as "100 times faster than what most Americans enjoy today." The package includes the network box, advanced Wi-Fi and a terabyte of cloud storage, for $70 monthly. Again, the $300 construction fee is waived.
As the third service, Google is also offering free Internet at five megabits per second, with the ability to upgrade when the customer is ready. But the $300 construction fee is not waived, although it can be paid in $25 monthly installments. The company said that 5.8 megabits is the average Net speed in the U.S.
To be eligible for any of the services, however, a customer must reside in what Google describes as "fiberhoods," which are small communities with a critical mass of residents who have pre-registered. The fiberhoods with the highest percent of pre-registrants will get service first.
Google announced in March 2011 that it would launch its gigabit service first in Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas City, Mo., was added several months later.
In an announcement on the company's Official Blog, Vice President for Access Services Milo Medin wrote Thursday about the possibilities for the new super-fast service.
"Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems" such as loading and waiting, "and will open up new possibilities for the Web," he said. He added that one could imagine "instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven't even dreamed of, powered by a gig."
First Gigabit City
The distinction of being the first American city with gigabit Net service goes to Chattanooga, Tenn. There, the fiber system that serves 170,000 businesses and homes was installed by the community-owned electric utility EPB, and was designed to run what the city calls "America's first true Smart Grid." However, Chattanooga's service, which is actively seeking and encouraging advanced applications, costs $350 monthly.
Under contract with Google, Sonic.net is offering gigabit service to about 800 faculty homes near Stanford University. A startup called Gigabit Squared announced in May that it had raised $200 million to build gigabit service for at least six university communities in the U.S.
After these gigabit efforts, the next rung down in speedom is occupied by Verizon, which is offering a new FIOS service called Quantum, at 300 Mbps and $205 monthly with a two-year contract. Recent reports have also indicated that Comcast is preparing its own 305 Mbps service.