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.
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.
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.
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.