Google to Roll Out Super-Speed Gigabit Broadband

John Lister's picture

Google has named 34 cities where it hopes to offer its super-fast broadband service. Google Fiber customers can get speeds as high as 50 times more than that which is currently offered by most cable providers.

Typical Broadband Versus Google Fiber

Typical Internet broadband over an ordinary copper phone line means speeds of a few megabits per second.

For services over the same fiber-optic cables as cable TV companies, speeds of 10 to 20 megabits per second are more common. For a numbers comparison, a 10 megabit connection is equal to 1280 kilobytes per second.

That said, Google Fiber offers an astonishing theoretical maximum speed of 1,000 megabits (or 131,072 kilobytes) per second. To put that into context, it's fast enough to download a DVD-quality movie in 38 seconds - and only if your hard drive can keep up.

In practice, however, download speeds will be slower as they are also affected by the limitations of the particular site you are visiting. Still, it's a dramatic speed increase.

Lightning-Fast Broadband Means Building New Networks

Many of the current phone and cable TV-based broadband services are limited to an existing set of often-outdated cables. Some providers are forced to use a variety of technical tricks to make the most of the capacity. In short, it's not an ideal situation.

In comparison, Google is building local fiber-optic networks from scratch so it can use the latest technology to transfer blistering speeds of data.

Rather than try to cover the whole country, Google is looking for specific locations where its research shows it will get a lot of customers and support from local authorities to build the network. So far it offers the service in three places: the greater Kansas City area; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah.

Now it's announced nine metropolitan areas (covering a total of 34 cities of varying sizes) where it would like to bring the service: Portland, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham. (Source:

Though the target is the end of this year, there's no guarantee Google Fiber will come to all the cities. That depends on whether local officials are willing to work with Google to help build the networks. (Source:

Google Fiber Cities Must Be "Just Right"

Picking the cities is a little like the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears.

Rural cities that are too small or sparsely populated don't offer enough potential customers to make Google Fiber financially viable. But the biggest cities like New York or Chicago are so densely populated that it would be too much hassle to dig up streets to install the network.

Price is another issue. At the moment Google Fiber costs $70 a month for the broadband connection plus an optional $50 a month cable TV service. Though far cheaper than the fastest services cable companies offered by cable providers, it still limits the service to places with a relatively wealthy population.

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diamondix14's picture

I'm all for extending our internet access. However, rather than dig up streets for more fiber optic cable, why can't we access the internet via satellite? Wouldn't it be more cost effective for the customer to have a small dish attached to the respective bldg, home, dwelling etc? Isn't this technology in place now? If we can receive free digital TV, why can't we receive free internet?

Dennis Faas's picture

I'm no expert on satellites, but essentially, here are the facts as I understand them:

1. The downstream is always faster than the upstream. One-way satellite systems use a land line to send data (which is usually very slow) and the dish is used to receive data. Two-way satellite systems can send and receive data, though the speed is considerably less than a fiber optic connection. In comparison, fiber optic moves at the same speed in both directions.

2. Latency (response time) on satellites are always much slower than a physical connection. On a one-way system, half of the data path is sent via satellite, while the other half is sent via land line. The lag is a result of the downstream being faster than the upstream.

lepitbull's picture

I am a Google enthusiast, I wish they made an OS. But Speeding up the
Internet access is a great idea (Fiber optics is the Fastest - almost
the speed of Light). The luck of the USA, the increase of speed and so
many Internet providers keep prices down. But what about West Canada ?
We are High Tech and every home has an Internet connection, but at a
slow speed and astronomical prices for it, with our only 2 Internet
suppliers getting rich, all consumers get the shaft. We have so little
competition, so what they ask for (and both the same high prices and
low speed). We have to pay it. Commercial speed and price is different.
Canada has one of the slowest Internet speeds at the highest price in
the world. But support and stability is good.