Google Tweaks 'Fiberhood' Data
Likewise, the decision also means that some already-qualified fiberhoods will get service sooner than they did before Google fixed the data.
Google noted in a blog post late last week that it tweaked the data after discovering that its current set was not completely accurate, particularly around vacant lots, abandoned homes and large apartment buildings. That meant some fiberhoods weren't being counted correctly as area residents continued to fork over $10 to pre-register for the service, which will be headlined by a 1Gbit/s data service and a TV service bundle. Depending on the area and how difficult it will be to build out and install fiber, specific fiberhoods require 5 percent to 25 percent of households to pre-register. (See Google Fiber to Fix Apartment Snag.)
The deadline for Google's first fiber rally is Sept. 9, so it's in the home stretch. Google Fiber will compete in the Kansas Cities, primarily with Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) and, to a small degree, with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK).
Google tweeted Tuesday morning that 117 fiberhoods have reached their goal, just four more than the 117 it reported over the holiday weekend, so the pace has slowed a bit amid the looming deadline.
By Light Reading Cable's rough count, about 80 fiberhoods are still below their pre-registration goals five days before the phase I deadline. Google has plans to extend fiber to more areas in a second rally, but recently warned people in this first round that this may be their first and only opportunity to get Google Fiber. (See Crunch Time for Google Fiber and Google Fiber Promises Phase II Rollout .)
Google's build-by-demand model is allowed under the sweetheart franchise deals it signed with Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. But the company's approach hasn't escaped criticism. Some residents complained recently in The Kansas City Star that the fee-based pre-registration process is unfair to the area's poorer neighborhoods. And there are some questions about Google's long-term commitment to the project. Per its deal with the cities, Google can terminate its agreements two years after it starts building the networks. (See Google Fiber's Drive for Density and How Long Will Google Keep the Fiber Flowing? )
Google has also clarified that its TV service won't be a free-for-all, at least when it comes to set-top boxes. The first TV box and Nexus 7 tablet, which can be used as a fancy remote control, do come with the service, but additional TV boxes will run $5 each per month for 24 months, and come a basic remote. Customers can also buy additional set-tops for $120 each.
Customers can also cancel service anytime before Google starts construction in a given fiberhood, though Google will hold on to the $10 pre-registration fee. Customers are also on the hook for the $300 construction fee if they cancel service during the first year.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable