The Dream of Gigabit Internet

I don’t think anyone would deny that faster internet is better.  Our world is moving to the internet at an increasingly rapid rate, and the faster your connection, the more you can participate.  Unfortunately, the average internet speed in the U.S. is just 10 megabits/second.  10 Mbps isn’t bad, but it’s not great either.  I’d say there’s plenty of room for improvement, and it turns out that Google agrees with me.

But first, some baselines.  Using the free Ookla Speedtest.net app, I clocked the internet speeds at my house.  Up in my bedroom, I got an average download speed of 30.03 Mbps.  Not bad!  (Especially considering we’re technically paying for 25 Mbps!)  We actually just put in a new router to get better signal, and I’d say it’s paid off big time.  Now on to cellular.  Using T-Mobile’s 4G LTE on my iPhone 5s, I got an average download speed of 35.66 Mbps.  I actually hadn’t tested T-Mobile’s speeds until I wrote this article, and I was blown away.  Both of those numbers are well within a comfortable speed range for now.  But what about the future?

Years ago, I’m sure someone with a blog tested out his internet speeds and marveled at how fast they’d gotten.  I’m also sure that his numbers were a lot lower than mine.  My numbers might be great now, but what about in 5 years?  20 years?  Obviously, we’ve got to keep advancing.

Enter Google Fiber.  Google Fiber is a project designed to bring super fast internet access, via fiber optic cables, to the U.S.  I knew Google was working on this in a few cities, but it was brought to my attention the other day by an article in USA Today.  Google is extending their program to Atlanta!  Now I live in the suburbs of Atlanta, so I’m not sure whether I’m within range of the program, but I’m still excited.  Google Fiber is promising gigabit speeds, or a whopping 1000 Mbps.

Of course, we’ve neglected the golden question: How much does this cost?  Google Fiber has three pricing tiers.  The basic level gives you gigabit internet for $70/month (the USA Today article says $80, but I saw two other articles that said $70).  Considering that my family is paying $67/month for 25 Mbps, Google Fiber is a steal.  But it gets even juicier.  There’s another plan that gives you gigabit speeds plus TV service for $120/month.  Considering cable can cost up to $100, this is an unbelievable deal.

But didn’t I say three pricing tiers?  I did, and the third one might be the strangest.  For $0/month, you can get 5 Mbps, guaranteed for seven years.  All you have to do is pay a $300 installation fee.  I’m not going to lie, this one puzzles me.  It’s so unconventional, yet so intriguing.  Google could offer this as a starter package, and then maybe people will upgrade to gigabit later.  This could also be a way to get internet to the (relatively few) people who currently don’t have it at all.  Even if these people aren’t paying Google for their internet, odds are they’ll start using Google’s services online (and, by extension, start seeing their ads).  Makes me wonder if Google is on to something here after all.  ••

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