In A Nutshell
Google has rolled out a fiber optic–based Internet service to three American cities, and it is cheaper and 100 times faster than any competing service in the country. But due to the costs of infrastructure and other variables that have not (but will) come into play, don’t expect to be hooking up your service any time soon, if ever.
The Whole Bushel
Google Fiber is a new fiber optic–based Internet service that the telecommunications giant rolled out in early 2013. Well, rolled out very selectively—unless you’re in one of three US markets, you can’t get it. When will it be expanded to more markets? Nobody knows. Why does it matter? Because you’d probably give up a pinky finger for it. It’s 100 times faster than broadband, and cheaper, too.
Why would it be so difficult to bring such a revolutionary service to market on a mass scale? Well, because it’s revolutionary. The telecommunications industry is biased toward what they call “incumbents”—companies who are long-standing citizens in the telecom community and have invested billions in infrastructure. Even if Google has pockets deep enough to think about being able to meet infrastructure challenges (they do), its challenges will only be beginning if Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon think for a moment that Google intends to expend the funds and effort to pose a serious threat to their continued dominance. Another thing about incumbents—they tend not to like upstart competition offering far superior services at similar price points, and just because the legal and regulatory big guns aren’t out yet doesn’t mean they can’t be drawn at a moment’s notice.
Fiber is currently available in Kansas City, Missouri; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah, reaching a whopping 0.4 percent of American households. As for the rest of us, if we want the blinding fast Internet speeds that are totally technologically feasible yet economically held captive, we can . . . move to one of those cities. Or South Korea.