The end of buffering? Forever?! (and many more benefits)

We all know the feeling of watching the grey bar on the bottom of your YouTube video slowly grow, in suspense, wondering if it will make it to the end, ensuring that you’ll be able to watch your video all the way through. But then, every so often, it happens—that awful moment when the light grey bar stops at the halfway point of the video. There goes my hope of being able to see how that SNL skit ended. I wonder how many hours I’ve spent staring at the dreaded small gray circle spinning around and around the center of the screen while my video tells me it’s “buffering” (what does that word really even mean anyway?). But finally, there may be a solution.

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Google Fiber, an emerging internet and cable television service provided by Google, is a concept that was created to build an ultra-fast broadband internet network infrastructure using fiber-optic communication. Basically, this is a way of passing information using pulses of light, instead of cable or DSL, which are both copper wire communication. So far, Google Fiber is only available in Kansas City and surrounding towns in Kansas; the area is known as a “fiberhood.” Big news this week has been Google’s announcement that Fiber will now be coming to Austin, Texas. The thing about Google Fiber is that it connects based on geographic location—in order for your city to become the next fiberhood, an investment needs to be made and an entire infrastructure needs to be installed. Still in somewhat of an experimental stage, this service has a promising future because of the numerous benefits it can potentially offer.

 

—–> How Fiber Optics Work <—–

Google Fiber’s claim to fame, and largest competitive advantage, is its internet speeds of 1-gigabit—roughly 100 times faster than current speeds. Installation of Google Fiber and access to these incredible speeds cost users $70 dollars per month. For a monthly fee of $120, customers get Google’s TV service, as well as this internet service.

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Can you imagine being able to download a full-length high definition movie in just seconds? This blows my mind as I recall my last experience buying a movie from iTunes that took over 24 hours to download. Google also offers a cheap alternative to current broadband service—an additional offer through Google Fiber is their most basic service, which provides free internet service (at current speeds) for seven years after a one-time $300 installation fee. This potentially saves a consumer over $4,000 in what would have been seven years’ worth of monthly fees from another broadband provider. This offer alone could do great things in closing the “digital divide” that exists between high- and low-income communities, where internet service may not be affordable. Additionally, benefits may be seen in healthcare and education—imagine being able to attend your doctor consultation appointment from your couch, via video conference, only possible with such high-speed and high-resolution internet connection. In the realm of education, cheaper and faster internet provided by Google Fiber means better access in low-income communities where internet could contribute to learning at home and improve graduation rates in these areas.

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Google is currently laying the foundation for a gigabit-based future in our communities. Although the potential benefits are incredible, we have learned that we always have to take the double-edged sword into account when learning about new technology. Google Fiber is allowing us to reach a brink of connectivity that we have never seen before. As the service grows, and customer base expands, it will be interesting to see how our country reacts.

 

Check out google.com/fiber, and the YouTube channel googlefiberofficial for more info.

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15 thoughts on “The end of buffering? Forever?! (and many more benefits)

  1. While this is an incredible feat, my question is what is really necessary for the everyday consumer? Does the everyday consumer really need ridiculously fast internet to use their social media or e-mail? The one time installation fee of $300 for seven years of service is a great deal that I think should definitely be taken advantage of. But how fast are those internet speeds? Are they going to be completely obsolete in seven years? Like dial-up is today? With the rate of decline that the price of computing is going, and how much quicker and faster computers are getting, the “free internet” speed may not even run the most basic internet apps in seven years. Overall though, this was a very well written article. I liked the real world example of Kansas City.

  2. Great article. I love the idea of breaking loose of the traditional ISPs and seeing the companies that are involved in creating so many of the innovations available today via the Internet. By not only developing technology, but also delivering it to consumers, we are bound to have a much more streamlined experience, less flaws in our communications, and there is also the possibility for these companies to continue to be profit-maximizing. The issue of monopolies is sure to emerge should this technology attempt to spread nationwide, but I think it is a very positive advance.

  3. This is a really interesting post, and I like the idea of Google Fiber. For a society of people who like things done instantaneously and have impatience waiting for technology, the speed of Google Fiber can be beneficial and successful. I also really like that you bring up the “digital divide” and how Google Fiber can help our social world and limit some of the inequalities that low-income communities face. There is so much new amazing technology, but it is often distributed to only certain people and certain areas. I think it is important for companies like Google to think about ways to get lower-income people involved and able to access these new technologies because it can help the people and their communities, and it can also create new markets for the big companies. This was well-written, and I think we are definitely moving in a direction where everything keeps getting faster and faster

  4. This blog is well written and I liked how you explained the key concepts of Google fiber really well, describing some of its potential advantages. The beginning of this blog can be related to by everyone, and I especially felt connected to your experience with iTunes, as I remember trying to watch a movie one night yet forgot that it would take hours to download. In response to the blog, when I was first reading through it, I agreed with all of the Google fiber’s benefits that you mentioned, but then found myself agreeing with Jack’s comment due to the fact that we don’t know what type of technology that we will have in 7 years and if this free internet would still work. This reminded me of our discussion in class about Moore’s Law and the double edged sword because low-income communities could initially benefit from this service, but could potentially be at a disadvantage in a few years when internet speeds increase and they’re stuck in the 7 year contract with an inferior product.

  5. This is a great blog about a cool new technology. The prices, initially, seem a bit high, but I don’t know any major business or corporation that wouldn’t pay for extreme speed. The saying “Time is money” comes to mind. I am anxious to see how this new technology develops and spreads.

  6. I think this is great. I spent a good amount of time watching the buffer circle while I was trying to watch Modern Family. However, Jack makes a very good point. Google is essentially making this technology because consumers are incredibly impatient. Or they expect their server to give them the fast service that they already supposedly pay for. People seem to be willing to pay extra for faster service because humans move at a fast pace. If anything runs slower than expected we grow impatient and time feels as if it is moving slower. While we want our Internet and videos to run at the fastest speed as possible, is it really necessary or is it just a waste of money? Don’t they say “Patience is a virtue”?

  7. This blog caught my eye because of the big grey buffering circle that is displayed on the blog’s feed. I initially thought that I must have accidentally hit play on a YouTube video that you attached, and was frustrated at the fact that it had to buffer. Quickly I realized that it was simply a picture, but the initial frustration I felt fed my curiosity about your topic. I agree with some of the comments that perhaps it is ridiculous of society to desire such instantaneous gratification, but its hard not to when the possibility is there. The video describing Google’s fiber optics showed just how fast the fiber optics internet connection could be. Therefore, I am tempted to consider convincing my parents to shift. The comments have forced me to question whether the added benefits are truly worth the money.

  8. It is incredible to see how this new technology will truly transform efficiency, transcending into a multitude of industries.It is kind of sad to see how eager and restless our society has become to have to create a technology that requires no waiting at all. I think with this it will be interesting to see if a whole new market will open as well. I read that AT&T is already an emerging competitor for Google Fiber.

  9. Such an interesting post! Hailing from the amazing city of Hong Kong (where the father of fiber optics, Charles Kao, is from), Google fiber does not impress me as much as it does to many others. I am used to the idea of not having to wait for buffering because of the incredible speed that Hong Kong has. (check this out http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/25/business/fastest-internet-connection) Firstly, the price is fairly steep and it is not something new. In comparison to its US competition it does offer a better alternate. Secondly, there isn’t much need in the consumer market for faster internet. Time will tell whether Google fiber will become successful, and once it does, how will it prevent others come in and compete?

    On a more positive note, the logo for Google Fiber looks pretty cool.

  10. Excellent article and great blog post relevant to the topics discussed in class. Google Fiber seems like it’s changing the world one city at a time, providing internet at speeds 100 times that of current services. I’d like to see if this technology can be implemented throughout the country and still be deemed high speed and cost effective. However, I see the current technology, although it appears new, to continuously adapt. In Japan, an internet network has just been implemented currently working at TWICE the speed of this “insanely fast” google fiber. We’re gonna have to keep working to keep up with the emerging technology.

    http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/japan-launches-worlds-fastest-home-internet-20130416-2hxge.html

  11. Google Fiber improves the internet speed up to 1 Gigabytes per second. Which is CRAZY! normally our internet speed is 10 Mbps. It is increasing the speed by 100 percent. This creation will totally change the browsing world to another level and more advanced internet technology will emerge because of it. However, the installment process is really difficult, therefore, for it to spread all over the nation or the world will take a long period. Looking forward to experience the 1 Gb per Second speed!!!

  12. I would personally never say no to faster internet. Like you mentioned about dial-up becoming obsolete, I think slower internet connections will surely phase out in the next few years. What I’d love to see is how extensive internet connections can become, meaning if we can literally have the entire earth be connected on a wifi network. The benefits would not only affect healthcare and education like you stated, but also global political aspects. Then again, that would make anything and everything so much easier to hack.

  13. Great blog post. I would have never imagined that internet speeds of around 100 times what it is now would be currently available. I believe everyone would want faster speeds, but I do not think many would go for the price. I know I would probably not as I believe my internet speeds satisfy my needs and I am not willing to shell out 70 dollars every month just to have things load faster as many things I do, do not require a lot of loading time. I think this is the same for many internet uses. Unless you use the internet for things that require large downloads, many would not need the 100 times faster speed for that price. Also the internet will continue to get faster and the prices for this speed will continue to fall, so I think many will stay with their current provider until the price falls, but at that point Google fiber will probably have a lot more competition.

  14. Really interesting post! I’ve never heard of these ‘fiberhoods’ before but they sound very promising. Even though the price seems high, I think most businesses and even families are more than willing to pay extra for extremely fast internet service. When thinking about all of the frustration I’ve experienced because something wouldn’t load, I realized I would probably pay double what the price is to alleviate that annoyance from my life. I’m excited to see how quickly cities adopt this new technology.

  15. This was a really good post. I had never heard of Google fiber or “fiberhoods” before reading this post. You did a really good job of explaining what Google fiber is and what it is supposed to do. You also did a really good job of explaining the benefits, like that it would hopefully save consumers $4000 over seven years in monthly fees to current broadband providers. I also liked how you introduced the topic with buffering and the hope of ending it. Waiting for a video or movie to buffer is always one of the most stressful parts of my day.

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