Google launched its 1-gigabit-per-second broadband service in Kansas City today and also unveiled a new interactive television service called Google Fiber TV, in a move it hopes will push the broadband and paid TV industries to deploy speedier networks at a lower cost.
Google Fiber TV is a service that provides interactive search for TV that lets you search your DVR as well as content you have on services like Netflix. It will include a DVR with up to 500 hours of storage of shows and movies all in 1,080p High Definition. You can also record up to eight TV shows at once.
Google is charging every home that gets the fiber service $300 for the construction of the fiber link. But the company is waiving that fee for people who sign up initially for the service.
Google is offering three different packages. The Gigabit and Fiber TV service will cost $120 a month and will include 1Gbps connectivity on the upstream as well as downstream. There is no data cap. It also comes with 1 terabyte of Google Drive cloud storage. The TV service will include all the regular broadcast TV channels, hundreds of Google Fiber TV channels, thousands of TV shows on demand, and premium movie channels.
Google didn't say whether traditional cable channels such as Discovery or ESPN will be included in the package. The company will also be giving away free Google Android Nexus 7 tablets to everyone who signs up for this service.
The second package is for broadband-only customers. It will cost $70 a month and offer 1Gbps downloads and uploads. It will also provide the 1 terabyte of data storage, as well as a network box for offering the service.
For an introductory period, people who sign up for the two services won't have to pay the $300 construction fee.
The last package is geared toward the 25 percent of Kansas City area people who may not have broadband already. Google will offer this service for a limited time only. It will be free to customers who pay for the $300 fiber installation. And it will include 5Mbps download speeds and 1Mpbs upload speeds for seven years. Customers will have the option to upgrade the service to one of the other packages. Google will allow customers for this plan to pay for the $300 construction fee on a monthly basis -- $25 a month for the first year.
Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, said during the unveiling presentation that Google will make the service available to folks in Kansas City, Kan., as well as people in Kansas City, Mo. The company will deploy the network first in "fiberhoods" where there's the most interest from consumers.
Starting today, Google is launching virtual "rallies" in which it's encouraging people throughout these cities to sign up on a Web site. If a neighborhood can get 40 to 80 households to preregister for the service, Google will begin deployments. From there, the company will hook up schools, libraries, government offices, and other publicly accessed buildings to the fiber network.
Google has also established a "fiber space" demonstration center where local residents can make appointments to learn more about the personal and community benefits of having a fiber network.
Google, which announced the project in February 2010, began construction of the network backbone in February. The company had said it expected to launch the network this summer. The idea behind Google Fiber is for the company to build a commercial fiber-based high-speed broadband network that Google and others can use to test new business models and applications that need very fast connections -- upward of 1Gbps. Thousands of cities competed to be the home of the future network. Kansas City won.
Google is now ready to put the network into action. Earlier this summer a set-top box displaying the company's logo made it through the Federal Communications Commission's approval process.