Fiber-Friendliest Kansas City Neighborhoods 1st to Get Ultra High-Speed Service

Google on Thursday launched its high-speed Internet Google Fiber network in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Mo.

Residents of the two cities have to preregister for a US$10 fee. They have six weeks to rally their neighbors to sign up, and have to achieve a goal pre-set by Google. Residents of communities that don’t meet the goal will be refunded the $10 fee.

“When we asked people what they value in their Internet service, the majority of them simply said choice,” Google spokesperson Katelin Todhunter-Gerberg told TechNewsWorld. “So users in Kansas City will choose where we install and when.”

Google will offer subscribers three tiers of service, maxing out at $120 a month.

“Here in Kansas City, we are ecstatic,” Edwin Birch, a spokesperson for Kansas City, Kansas, told TechNewsWorld. “This is an opportunity for us to see what we can do with this ultra-high-speed technology.”

What Google Fiber Offers

Residents of both Kansas Cities who opt for free Internet will get 5 Mbps Internet access and have to pay a $300 fee for what Google calls “construction.” They can pay this fee in monthly installments of $25.

The next step up is Gigabit Internet: Residents will get a gigabit-enabled network box with advanced WiFi and 1 TB of cloud storage on Google Drive. This will cost $70 a month, and Google will waive the $300 construction fee.

Google Fiber’s top-of-the-line package is Gigabit +Google Fiber TV. In addition to 1 GB access speeds, subscribers will get a TV package that carries hundreds of channels, including local favorites, and tens of thousands of shows on demand, in HD TV. They will also get a Nexus 7 tablet that they can use as their remote control. This package will cost $120 a month, and Google will waive the construction fee.

Simply having the connection “will add value to homes and put our customers on the cutting edge of broadband technology,” Google’s Todhunter-Gerberg said. “And we’re offering these services at a competitive price.”

Subscribers to Google Fiber will have to sign a multiyear contract, Kansas City’s Birch said.

Caveats and Cautions

Only those neighborhoods that meet the preregistration goal set by Google will qualify for Google Fiber.

That goal is the number of homes in a neighborhood that have to preregister for the service. It ranges from 5 percent to 25 percent of the homes, depending on the ease of construction.

Houses in neighborhoods that are spread out, such as those in suburbs, require more time, fiber and labor than those in dense urban environments, for example.

“Because there’s a physical aspect to fiber — we actually have to pull it down streets — it’s much easier to bring it into neighborhoods with critical masses of people,” Google’s Todhunter-Gerberg explained.

Goin’ to Kansas City

Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Mo., were selected from among more than 1,100 communities that had applied to get Google Fiber.

The two are part of the Kansas City, Mo., metropolitan area, which covers 15 counties and has a population of more than 2 million.

Kansas City, Kansas, is the county seat of Wyandotte County, and county officials had reportedly hoped Google Fiber would help draw high-tech companies and jobs to the area.

However, “We never expected from the beginning that jobs would come with Google right off the bat,” Kansas City’s Birch said. “We saw it as an opportunity to engage in creative thinking and dialog in a way that’s not been done before.”

So far, “a couple of companies have decided to come here, or are interested in coming here, because of Google Fiber,” Birch added.

Google “will be looking at ways to bring ultra-high-speeds to other communities,” said Todhunter-Gerberg, but doesn’t have anything to announce at this time.

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