May 19--Google is known for wacky experiments -- the self-driving car or the odd
When it announced Google Fiber in 2010, my reaction to the company's work with ultra high-speed Internet was to marvel at the technology involved and become annoyed that it would probably never get to Tulsa or most of the country. Especially since Google stated its intention wasn't to become a major provider.
That's not quite how their experiment is panning out.
In the Kansas City test area, $70 per month will get you Internet speeds as fast as one gigabit per second. That's almost absurdly fast. Those speeds will allow you to stream five HD movies at once with bandwidth to spare or download an HD movie to your hard drive in under two minutes.
By comparison, the average peak connection speed in the U.S. is 29.6 megabytes per second, according to the latest State of the Internet report by cloud service provider Akami.
Not only does that statistic put the U.S. 19th in the world, it begs the question: Why are our speeds so slow when there's technology available that's 33 times faster?
Fast Internet isn't just more cat videos. It's speed that could give companies a competitive edge.
The pessimist in me figured the small area of the experiment and the expense of upgrading meant Google Fiber wouldn't have much of an impact.
Then an odd thing happened. Google announced last month it would bring Google Fiber to Austin by next year. Just hours after the announcement, AT&T announced it would also bring gigabit-fast Internet to Austin.
A few weeks after that, Vermont Telephone Company, a rural family-owned telephone company in Springfield, Vt., announced it would bring gigabit Internet to some of its customers. Vermont isn't anywhere near the Google Fiber locations, but they hopped on the bandwagon.
Which may have been the ultimate goal of Google Fiber -- show it can be done and shame the Internet providers into implementing it themselves.
It may take some years before providers get motivated enough to bring ultra-fast Internet to Tulsa, and even longer for those in rural areas. But Google's kick in the pants may bring it to us faster than it would have come otherwise.
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