Google Fiber Starts to Hook Up Customers
As it approaches the three-year anniversary of revealing its project in February 2010, Google Fiber announced Tuesday that it has begun to connect homes to its 1Gbit/s network in Kansas City, Kan. (See Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH.)
That first "fiberhood" (areas with 250 to 1,500 homes) is the Hannover Heights section of Kansas City, Kan. Next in line is the Dub's Dread fiberhood in Kansas, where customers have until Nov. 15 to pick their service plans before installations begin in December.
Google Fiber expects to get more aggressive in 2013, as it makes plans to extend service to another five areas this winter, more than a dozen next spring, and even more in the summer of 2013. In all, 180 of the 202 initial fiberhoods identified in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., reached their pre-registration goals to get Google Fiber service. (See Google to Light Up Second Fiberhood, 89% of Google Fiberhoods Make the Cut and KC Gets Google Fiber for Real in October.)
While today marks the "official" start of installations, Google Fiber noted on its blog that it has been "working in a few homes over the last few weeks" so it can iron out the kinks before it gets going in earnest.
Google Fiber has not revealed how many customers will be connected in this first wave, but its customer service leader, Alana Karen, told the Kansas City Business Journal that fewer than 100 have had the service since October. (See Google Fiber's Drive for Density and How Long Will Google Keep the Fiber Flowing? )
Google said it's aiming for a one-visit installation process, but at this juncture it consists of two parts. Google will first pull fiber and terminate it at the subscriber's home, then follow up with the in-home installation. Google Fiber posted this video so customers will know what to expect:
To mark the occasion this afternoon, Google Fiber live-streamed an installation at an office in Hannover Heights shared by The KC Startup Village, an initiative dedicated to area startups. Yes, it was as exciting as it looks here:
Google Fiber's 1Gbit/s broadband service will run $70 per month alongside a subscription TV bundle that starts at $120 per month. Google's also offering a "free" 5Mbit/s downstream by 1Mbit/s upstream service to customers who pay the $300 construction fee. (See Google Fiber Bundles TV, Shuns Data Caps.)
As Google Fiber expands in the Kansas Cities, it will run up against Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) and, to a small degree, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK).
TW Cable Executive VP and Chief Strategy, People and Corporate Development Officer Peter Stern, who clearly needs a longer title, downplayed the competitive effects of Google Fiber today during an SNL Kagan event in New York. He argued that Google Fiber does not have a business case, and that the cable operator has lost only 18 customers so far to Google Fiber's free broadband tier, according to tweets from SNL Kagan's Deborah Yao. (See TWC Wants Piece of Google Fiber's Sweet Deal and TW Cable Sizes Up Google Fiber Threat .)
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable