Google Fiber is part of the Access division of Alphabet Inc. It provides fiber-to-the-premises service in the United States, providing broadband Internet and IPTV to a small and slowly increasing number of locations. In mid-2016, Google Fiber had 68,715 television subscribers and was estimated to have about 453,000 broadband customers.
The service was first introduced to the Kansas City metropolitan area, including 20 Kansas City area suburbs within the first 3 years. Initially proposed as an experimental project, Google Fiber was announced as a viable business model on December 12, 2012, when Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt stated "It's actually not an experiment, we're actually running it as a business," at the New York Times DealBook Conference.
Google Fiber announced expansion to Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, in April 2013, and subsequent expansions in 2014 and 2015 to Atlanta, Charlotte, the Triangle, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio.
On August 10, 2015, Google announced its intention to restructure the company moving less central services and products into a new umbrella corporation, Alphabet Inc. As part of this restructuring plan, Google Fiber would become a subsidiary of Alphabet and may become part of the Access and Energy business unit. In October 2016, all expansion plans were put on hold and some jobs were cut. Google Fiber will continue to provide service in the cities where it is already installed.
A map of cities with Google Fiber
Google Fiber offers five options, depending on location: a free Internet option, a 100 Mbit/s option, a 1 Gbit/s Internet option, and an option including television service (in addition to the 1 Gbit/s Internet) and an option for home phone. The Internet service includes one terabyte of Google Drive service and the television service includes a two-terabyte DVR in addition to the Google Drive. The DVR can record up to eight live television shows simultaneously. In addition, television service will stream live program content on iPad and Android tablet computers.
Google offers several different service plans to their customers:
||Gigabit + TV
|Internet bandwidth (download)
|Internet bandwidth (upload)
|TV service included
|Monthly recurring cost
||1 TB Google Drive
2 TB DVR
|1 TB Google Drive
TV remote control
Google also offers free Google Fiber Internet connectivity in each of its markets to select public and affordable housing properties.
In order to avoid underground cabling complexity for the last mile, Google Fiber relies on aggregators dubbed Google Fiber Huts.
From these Google Fiber Huts, the fiber cables travel along utility poles into neighborhoods and homes, and stop at a Fiber Jack (an Optical Network Terminal or ONT) in each home.
The estimated cost of wiring a fiber network like Google Fiber into a major American city is $1 billion.
First city selection process
The initial location was chosen following a competitive selection process. Over 1,100 communities applied to be the first recipient of the service. Google originally stated that they would announce the winner or winners by the end of 2010; however, in mid-December, Google pushed back the announcement to "early 2011" due to the number of applications.
The request form was simple, and, some have argued, too straightforward. This led to various attention-getting behaviors by those hoping to have their town selected. Some examples are given below:
- Baton Rouge, Louisiana supporters remade the Supertramp song "Give a Little Bit" to "Give a Gigabit".
- Greenville, South Carolina utilized 1,000 of their citizens and glow sticks to create "The World's First and Largest People-Powered Google Chain." From an aerial view, the title "Google" was colorfully visible.
- Topeka, Kansas, temporarily renamed itself "Google".
- A small plane bearing a banner reading "Will Google Play in Peoria, IL?" flew over the Google campus in Mountain View, California.
- The mayor of Duluth, Minnesota, jokingly proclaimed that every first-born child will be named either Google Fiber or Googlette Fiber.
- The city of Rancho Cucamonga, California, dubbed their city, "Rancho Googlemonga".
- One of the islands in Sarasota, Florida, was temporarily renamed "Google Island".
Municipalities and citizens have also uploaded YouTube videos to support their bids. Some examples:
In 2011, Google launched a trial in a residential community of Palo Alto, California. On March 30 of the same year, Kansas City, Kansas, was selected as the first city to receive Google Fiber. In 2013, Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, were announced as expansion cities for Google Fiber on April 9 and 17 respectively.
Google Fiber goes to Kansas City
Google found that affluent neighborhoods in Kansas City signed up for the faster service while those in poorer neighborhoods did not sign up for even the free option. In response to this digital divide, Google sent a team of 60 employees to the under-served areas to promote the Google Fiber service. Additionally, Google offered micro-grants to community organizations that want to start up digital literacy programs in Kansas City.
The following are chronological announcements of service in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Neighborhoods are said to be selected based on demand:
- Kansas City, Kansas - On March 30, 2011, Kansas City, Kansas, was selected from over 1,100 applicants to be the first Google Fiber community.
- Kansas City, Missouri - On May 17, 2011, Google announced the decision to include Kansas City, Missouri, thus offering service to both sides of the state line. The network became available to residents in September 2012.
- Olathe, Kansas - On March 19, 2013, Google announced that the project would be expanded to Olathe.
- North Kansas City, Missouri - On April 19, 2013, Google announced that they were to begin a 20-year lease on dark fiber in the existing LiNKCity fiber network in North Kansas City. The original news article was incomplete and later articles clarified the lease. Independent of Google's network the system in North Kansas City will also be upgraded to Gigabit capacity and managed by a local company based out of North Kansas City.
- Shawnee, Kansas - May 2, 2013
- Raytown, Missouri - May 3, 2013
- Grandview, Missouri - May 7, 2013
- Gladstone, Missouri - May 13, 2013
- Raytown, Missouri - May 22, 2013
- Lee's Summit, Missouri - June 21, 2013
- Mission, Kansas - June 27, 2013
- Prairie Village, Kansas - August 5, 2013 
- Leawood, Kansas - August 19, 2013 - (cancelled July 24, 2014)
- Merriam, Kansas - August 26, 2013
- Roeland Park, Kansas - September 3, 2013
- Mission Hills, Kansas - September 9, 2013
- Fairway, Kansas - September 9, 2013
- Lenexa, Kansas - September 17, 2013
Google placed deployment in Overland Park, Kansas, on indefinite hold in October 2013, following delays by the City Council over concerns about whether an indemnification clause that Google required might force the city to repair any damage caused by the project. As of July 2014, Overland Park's City Council had voted on a deal that would allow for Google Fiber. Soon after, the city appeared on Google Fiber's website.
- Austin, Texas - On April 9, 2013, it was announced that Austin would become a Google Fiber City.
- On October 15, 2014, it was announced that Austin signups for Google Fiber would start in December 2014.
- On December 3, 2014, Google started taking registrations from residents and small businesses.
Google Fiber store entrance, Austin
Google Fiber store, Austin
Google Fiber store, Austin
TV box and Network box at Google Fiber store, Austin
- Provo, Utah - On April 17, 2013, it was announced that Provo would become the third Google Fiber City. Expansion of Google Fiber service to Provo, Utah will be accomplished through an agreement with the City of Provo to allow Google to acquire the existing fiber network known as "iProvo". The agreement will allow Google to purchase the iProvo network for $1, while requiring Google to upgrade the aging network to gigabit capacity, offer free gigabit service to 25 local public institutions, and offer 5 Mbit/s service to every home in the city for free after a $300 activation fee.
Salt Lake City
On March 24, 2015, Google announced that Google Fiber would expand into Salt Lake City, Utah. Service became available for signup on August 24, 2016.
On July 12, 2016, sign-ups opened in Highland Creek (Charlotte neighborhood).
On October 4, 2016, sign-ups opened in Prosperity Village.
In the original announcement of 2015, the following areas were announced:
In August 2016, sign-ups were opened.
Research Triangle (Raleigh-Durham)
In the original announcement of 2015, the following areas of the Research Triangle were announced:
On September 13, 2016, sign-ups opened.
The areas initially announced in February 2015 were:
As of December 2016, construction is underway. Sign-ups are open.
As of August 2017, Google Fiber announced that the Sylvan Park neighborhood in West Nashville had Google Fiber service officially operating, making Nashville a city currently with Google Fiber service.
Announced future locations
On January 27, 2015, Google announced that Google Fiber would expand into additional markets:
Irvine, California, previously announced separately, is in Orange County.
San Antonio, Texas
On April 14, 2016, Google sent a blast email to early adopters of Google Fiber announcing that they were indeed behind the visible construction across the city. A few details were given about the vast extent of the construction that was being undertaken, Google is in the process of deploying about 4,000 linear miles (6,500 km) of fiber-optic cable throughout San Antonio. In advance of the imminent deployment of the new fiber network the direct competitors of Google Fiber, AT&T U-Verse, Time Warner Cable, and Grande Communications, have dropped prices and increased the speeds of their networks. San Antonio, the seventh-largest city in the nation, is the largest project that Google Fiber has taken on to date.
On August 5, 2015, expansion into San Antonio was announced. As of December 2016, construction is underway. However, in January 2017, construction was halted pending concerns about the placement of Google Fiber huts in city parks. Mayor Ivy Taylor expressed commitment to working with Google to address community concerns and allow the project to continue.
On February 22, 2016, Google announced that Google Fiber would expand into Huntsville, Alabama.
In April 2017, Google announced that Google Fiber would start construction in Louisville, Kentucky. Google Fiber got the service to sections of Louisville in five months after it first announced that it would be coming to the city--faster than it had ever deployed before--by using shallow trenching.
Possible future expansion
In February 2014, Google announced it had "invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.--34 cities altogether--to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber."
The remaining metropolitan areas where Fiber has not yet begun constructing are: Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio and San Jose. Of these, the following have yet to be selected by Google for fiber deployments:
On April 15, 2014, Google began polling business users on their need for gigabit service, that they would be "conducting a pilot program where we'll connect a limited number of small businesses to our network."
On September 10, 2015, Google tweeted that it was exploring the possibility of adding Irvine and San Diego, California, as future expansion cities.
On October 28, 2015, Jill Szuchmacher, Google Fiber Director of Expansion, announced ongoing negotiations with local governments in Jacksonville, Florida, Tampa, Florida, and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Szuchmacher stated that Google is interested in the installation of Google Fiber networks in each of the cities and that construction could take up to eighteen months once the project is underway. In October 2016, those plans were put on hold.
On December 8, 2015, the Seattle City Council's Director of Communications replied to a tweet indicating that the city was in the process of applying for Google Fiber service. On December 8, 2015, Jill Szuchmacher said the company will work with Chicago city leaders to collect information and study factors that could affect construction of Google Fiber.
On June 14, 2016, Jill Szuchmacher said the company will work with Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings to try to bring another hub to Texas.
In October 2016, all expansion plans were put on hold and some jobs were cut. Google Fiber will continue to provide service in the cities where it is already installed.
In 2017 Google Fiber launched in three new cities: Huntsville, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and San Antonio, Texas. It also began to heavily rely on shallow trenching, a new method of laying cables that cut a small groove in the street or sidewalk, lay the fiber in that groove, and backfill it with a special epoxy, to expedite the construction process. In at least one case, cables were buried too shallow and were ripped up by repaving.
Acquisition of Webpass
On June 22, 2016, Google Fiber bought Webpass, an Internet service provider that has been in business for 13 years and specializes in high-speed Internet for business and residential customers. They have a large presence in California and specifically the Bay Area as well as San Diego, Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston. The deal closed in October 2016.
Google Fiber provides an Internet connection speed of up to one gigabit per second (1,000 Mbit/s) for both download and upload, which is roughly 100 times faster access than what most Americans have. Google Fiber says its service allows for the download of a full movie in less than two minutes.
In order to use gigabit speeds as of 2013, devices would require support for Gigabit Ethernet and category 5e or greater cabling, or a 802.11ac compatible WiFi router and wireless adapter.[note 1]
Prohibition of servers
When first launched, Google Fiber's terms of service stated that its subscribers were not allowed to create any type of server:
"Your Google Fiber account is for your use and the reasonable use of your guests. Unless you have a written agreement with Google Fiber permitting you do so, you should not host any type of server using your Google Fiber connection, use your Google Fiber account to provide a large number of people with Internet access, or use your Google Fiber account to provide commercial services to third parties (including, but not limited to, selling Internet access to third parties)."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation criticized the practice, noting the ambiguity of the word "server" which might (or might not) include such common application protocols as BitTorrent, and Spotify, as well as the effect of and on IPv6 adoption due its lack of NAT technical limitations on network servers, but also noted similar prohibitions from other ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, Cox, and AT&T.
In October 2013, the acceptable use policy for Google Fiber was modified to allow "personal, non-commercial use of servers".
April Fools' hoaxes
On April Fools' Day 2007, Google hosted a signup for Google TiSP offering "a fully functional, end-to-end system that provides in-home wireless access by connecting your commode-based TiSP wireless router to one of thousands of TiSP Access Nodes via fiber-optic cable strung through your local municipal sewage lines."
On April Fools' Day 2012, Google Fiber announced that their product was an edible Google Fiber bar instead of fiber-optic Internet broadband. It is stated that the Google Fiber bar delivers "what the body needs to sustain activity, energy, and productivity."
On April Fools' Day 2013, Google Fiber announced the introduction of Google Fiber to the Pole. The description provided was "Google Fiber to the Pole provides ubiquitous gigabit connectivity to fiberhoods across Kansas City. This latest innovation in Google Fiber technology enables users to access Google Fiber's ultrafast gigabit speeds even when they are out and about." Clicking on the "Learn more" and "Find a pole near you" buttons displayed a message reading "April Fool's! While Fiber Poles don't exist, we are working on a bunch of cool stuff that does. Keep posted on all things Fiber by checking out our blog."
The April Fools' Day 2014 prank was an announcement of Coffee To The Home, using a spout on the fiber jack where the service enters the customer's home to deliver customized coffee drinks.
On April Fools' Day 2015, Google Fiber announced Dial-Up Mode for people who prefer slower Internet. It reaches speeds up to 56k and helps people get back to real life more often.
For the 2016 April Fools' Day joke, Google Fiber announced it was "exploring 1 billion times faster speeds".
Time Magazine has claimed that rather than wanting to actually operate as an Internet service provider, the company was just hoping to shame the major cable operators into improving their service so that Google searches could be done faster. Google has neither confirmed nor denied this claim.
AT&T and other Internet Service Providers have launched their own gigabit services since Google Fiber was revealed. Some cable subscribers have also had their speeds increased without additional costs.
According to a Goldman Sachs report, Google could connect approximately 830,000 homes a year at the cost of $1.25 billion a year, or a total of 7.5 million homes in nine years at a cost of slightly over $10 billion.
In January 2014 a bill was introduced in the Kansas Legislature (Senate Bill 304, referred to as the "Municipal Communications Network and Private Telecommunications Investment Safeguards Act") which would prevent Google Fiber from expanding further in Kansas using the model used in Kansas City. The bill proposes: "Except with regard to unserved areas, a municipality may not, directly or indirectly:
- Offer to provide to one or more subscribers, video, telecommunications or broadband service; or
- purchase, lease, construct, maintain or operate any facility for the purpose of enabling a private business or entity to offer, provide, carry, or deliver video, telecommunications or broadband service to one or more subscribers."
By February 2014, Senate Bill 304 (SB304) had lost momentum in the Kansas state senate, and the bill's sponsor, Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association (KCTA), indicated that it is highly unlikely that it will continue to pursue the legislation in the current legislative session.
- ^ The 802.11a/b/g/n wireless protocols cannot achieve 1 gigabit speeds. The one exception, 802.11ac theoretically supports up to 1.3 Gbit/s (162.5 megabytes per second). However, as of 2013 commercially available 802.11ac devices achieve
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This doesn't mean we're delivering Google Fiber service to the city of North Kansas City," Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres says. "It just means we're using their fiber as a pass-through to get to surrounding areas.
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