updated 02:12 pm EDT, Thu July 26, 2012
Free low-speed internet offered to Fiber adopters
Google has officially launched its Google Fiber project. A streamed event by the search provider announced that both Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri will have the gigabit Internet service introduced to households within six weeks. Packages, including necessary hardware, and registration incentives were detailed on a YouTube stream, along with the surprise offer of "free" slower Internet access to those not wanting the full gigabit service.
The connection comes through the Google Fiber Network Box, which puts out 802.11n Wi-Fi at up to 360Mbps and integrates four gigabit Ethernet ports. A built-in firewall offers security, and control of the box is handled through a cloud-based app.
Fiber TV is a combined DVR and cable box, putting out HD content from hundreds of channels alongside thousands of on-demand shows and movies. It also has an extra Ethernet port connection and acts as an extra Wi-Fi access point. Bluetooth connectivity is also an option for the box, allowing users to pair headphones and keyboards to it. A Nexus 7 is supplied as part of the Fiber TV installation, acting as the system's remote control, although a Fiber app can be downloaded on alternative Android and iOS devices for the same purpose.
The third main component is a Storage Box, which acts as the home network's primary storage. The 2TB drive can store up to 500 hours of HD video, and is capable of simultaneously recording up to eight TV channels.
Google will initially be offering three different packages for Fiber users. The Gigabit + TV option costs $120 per month and gives users 1Gb upload and download speeds with no data caps, along with the Fiber TV box and all available channels, the Storage Box, the Network Box, the Nexus 7 tablet and a 1TB Google Drive. A second option, consisting of the gigabit connection without caps, the Network Box and 1TB Google Drive, will cost $70 per month. Both of these packages waive the $300 construction fee for initial installation.
The third package consists of the Network Box, 5Mbps downstream, 1Mbps upstream, and no data caps. Although there is the $300 construction fee, there is no monthly subscription for this basic service, dubbed "Free Internet," and will be guaranteed free for at least 7 years. Customers opting for this will be able to upgrade to the full Gigabit connection at a later date.
A pre-registration page briefly appeared online before the official announcement. Taken down shortly after its discovery but now working again, it allows users to pay a refundable $10 fee to mark their interest in receiving the service. The process becomes a competition, in which areas with the highest number of pre-registered users get the service earlier than others.
Schools and other public buildings can receive free gigabit service in neighborhoods (branded Fiberhoods by Google). A six-week rally ending September 9 gives the Fiberhoods a chance to get more interest in regions and accelerate their fiber activation date. A dedicated Fiber Space will demonstrate to locals what Google Fiber will do for its customers. TVs showing broadcasts and computers with Internet access will show what the service is capable of. [via Official Google Blog]