Is Google becoming an ISP (Internet Service Provider)?

On July 26th Google Fiber rolled out a new broadband service in Kansas City that boasts speeds of 1000mb per second, or, 1gb per second. If speeds like that boggle your mind, they should. That’s fast enough for an average movie to download in a few minutes; 100 times faster than the average American currently enjoys.

To make this offer even more appealing the associated costs appear pretty low. The Google Fiber website offers three plans, the least expensive of which is zero dollars, for exactly what you’re probably paying through the nose for right now. This plan will be available for 7 years-- Google calls it “future-proofing” homes, because there’s more content available online every day, and it’s betting that eventually consumers will want to upgrade. They’re probably right. This free Internet plan includes up to 5Mbps download, 1Mbps upload speed, no data caps, the network box and free service guaranteed for at least 7 years.

$70 per month has the Gigabit internet which includes instantaneous viewing and file sharing, high-powered wifi and four Gigabit Ethernet ports. For just $50 more ($120 per month) you get all that plus a wide selection of channels, including HD, a free 16GB Nexus tablet to use as a remote, and a 2TB storage box (in addition to the 1TB accessible through Google Drive, their file-sharing system).

Google is starting to look a lot like an Internet service provider -- The ISP to rule all ISPs! They’re taking a playful approach to all of this as people can sign up for their service with only a $10 deposit and locations called ‘fiber-hoods’ will be completed based on the number of signups in the area. Cute names like a ‘fiber hoods” and psychedelic colored Bunny as a mascot are fun, but this is serious threat to companies like Comcast, Verizon and Cox—Especially since all of Google’s services are uncapped, which will strike fear into the hearts of their competition.

Google Fiber is still a pilot project for now and they have been quiet about any expansion plans in other cities; however we’d guess it’s only a matter of time since their target is to have half the subscribers in Kansas City up and running by late 2013. As they expand, cynic’s voices will become louder as many are claiming Google Fiber is a ploy to gain further information about users; where we go online, what kinds of things we buy, where we take our Android phones. Some people don’t have a problem with this, and—like Google—feel it helps the search and advertising giant better serve them. Others suggest it’s merely to flex their muscle in Washington, which has vowed to improve broadband penetration but so far has shown little progress.

Ars Technica quotes Forrester analyst James McQuivey saying: “No one will redesign a global business because the economics of it have changed in one city. Unless Google has recently announced plans to roll out in 10 cities, this is just a really neat thing for Kansas City that every industry will closely watch in case it has the potential to spread.”

Let’s hope it spreads like wildfire.

[image: ThinkStockPhotos]

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