On March 30, 2011 Google announced that Kansas City was selected out of 1,100 cities for deployment of an ultra high-speed broadband network.  Google has since announced fiber deployments in Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah, and named 9 more cities currently being evaluated for fiber deployment. Charlotte is one of the 9 cities being considered.

I spoke with Ryan Weber, President of KCNext the technology council for greater Kansas City. One of the reasons why Google choose Kansas City was that it straddles two states (Kansas and Missouri) with a mix of government owned and privately owned utilities. Google wanted to test these environments and the metro area met these needs. The Kauffman Foundation is also based in Kansas City and was an active participate in the effort to convince Google to select the city.

Some readers may not know that Google's fiber deployment is a residential application. They named the neighborhood deployments as “Fiberhoods”. It isn't that homes need 1 Gb of synchronous Internet speed today, but it is how the Internet will be used in the future with the Internet of Things that is driving their forecast for bandwidth. Businesses do not have direct access to Google Fiber today, but Ryan told me it is in the works.

It should be highlighted that Google's Gb of bandwidth is symmetrical, which is unusual for consumer applications which tend to be asymmetrical with greater bandwidth for downloads than uploads. This is significant for home users and entrepreneurs who upload large files such as video, and collaborate online with multimedia tools. See the following speed test result from a Kansas City Google Fiber user:

Google Fiber is more than just Internet access; they offer high-definition TV, DVR with two terabytes of video storage, and a Terabyte of online storage space for other Google applications as well. Here is a summary of Google's current plans in the Kansas City market:

  • Gigabit + TV: $120/month ($300 construction fee waived) Includes a Nexus 7 tablet.

  • Gigabit Internet: $70/month ($300 construction fee waived)

  • Free Internet (5Mb download, 1Mb upload): $0/month (for at least seven years) + $300 construction fee

Homeowners sign up on a waiting list, and once there is sufficient demand Google begins the fiberhood build.

Google has clearly thrown down the gauntlet for high speed Internet access with TV to the home. Incumbent providers like Time Warner Cable and AT&T have been responding with offers of their own (Time Warner ups speeds, slashes rates), proving once again that when competition thrives, consumers benefit. The last time I witnessed such a competitive disruption was Skype's IP 'phone' service. We embrace the potential of greater competition in Charlotte as it will lead to improved services and pricing for everyone.

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