Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

More than a year after getting hundreds of towns and cities across the nation into a lather about its 1Gig fiber-to-the-home experiment, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) today revealed the winner: Kansas City, Kan.

Google, which fielded responses from close to 1,100 cities, said it has inked a development deal with the city "and we'll be working closely with local organizations, businesses and universities to bring a next-generation web experience to the community." It's already identified some local organizations that will help develop "gigabit applications of the future," including the Kaufmann Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

At a local event held soon after the announcement, Google said it picked Kansas City in part because its existing infrastructure would allow it to get its fiber project up and running fairly quickly. It also talked up the effect the project could have on the area's economic development and that the city's community stakeholders would be heavily engaged on the project.

Google still needs the okay from the city's board of commissioners, but it plans to light up service sometime in 2012.

Google announced the plan last year, noting that its resulting "open" network would serve at least 50,000, and up to as many as 500,00 users. It's not saying how many users it anticipates connecting to the new net, or how much it will cost to build.

Regardless, this fiber contest of sorts did cause cities and towns across the country to come down with a case of Googlemania. Topeka, Kan., went so far as to offer jokingly to change its name to Google, Kan., for a month. Songs were written in Google's honor. There was even a list made of the top five worst Google fiber pitches.

Why this matters
Well, it's Google. Plus, the project is coming into play as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tries to move ahead on its ambitious National Broadband Plan. And Google's project may cause some to question some of the benchmarks set by that plan. (See FCC Boots Up National Broadband Plan , FCC: Broadband Starts at 4 Mbit/s , FCC: 'Broadband' Is Scarce and FCC Chair Sets 2020 Broadband Vision .)

"On the national level, this announcement will throw some light and questions on the National Broadband Plan because, in my opinion, the National Broadband Plan shoots too low on its objectives," says Craig Settles, an industry analyst and co-founder of the Communities United for Broadband, a group put together in response to the Google fiber project. "It will put some pressure on folks to reassess their views in terms of where this national strategy is going."

He also believes that Google's selection could re-energize the broadband efforts of other cities and towns that didn't win this round. "The engines are going to get revved up big time," he said.

Google hasn't made any firm additional FTTP commitments, but did note in its blog that it will be "looking closely at ways to bring ultra high-speed Internet to other cities across the country."

In the service provider world, there's been some concern that Google's speedy fiber project could cause some angst and put additional speed pressure on incumbent providers. Google's fiber pick is in Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse country.

For more
For a look at how Google's project progressed from its original announcement to today's selection, check out: — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:09:06 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

Google hasn't offered too many details about this "development agreement" with the city, but Milo Medin said in an interview following the announcement that Google "will be delivering service as a service provider."  But they've previously said this network would be open, suggesting that other ISPs (even ones that would compete with Google's own offer) can offer service off it so long as they pay tribute to Google. JB



paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:09:06 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

I assume they will sub out a lot or all of the service like the cable companies.


Wonder what their NOC will be like and if they will do more than something like the pages that support Google Docs status.




paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:09:06 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS


Is this a service Google is going to operate or the City?  Construction is one thing.  Operation and maintenance is another.



Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:09:00 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS


The story isn't surprising.  KC has a lot of aerial plant and available duct.  Unlike Verizon and some of the Tier 3s who've done FTTH, they probably can't overlash on existing metallic cable.  But pulling and tensioning strand isn't that expensive.

I'm still waiting to see if they're doing PON (and which flavor), pt-pt or active Ethernet. 

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:08:59 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

That would be my first guess. But I'm not jumping to conclusions.

They can also get a Gig with active Ethernet or 10GEPON.  I think either Novera or Corecess has a 1G WDM PON.  And I'd argue they could even fairly claim 1G with GPON with a GigE interface on the ONT and 1G rate caps, maybe at 16:1 split.


paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:08:59 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS



Given their 1Gig stance, I suspect they are planning on pt-pt.




desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 5:08:59 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS


You're right about building vs. operating and maintaining.  My GoogleWiFi connection never works.  I think this is another half-thought out idea from some google employee.  This is the downside of that "one day off to come up with good ideas" entitlement for google employees.  Every good idea is pursued 60% of the way and then we consumers get dumped before we get a real product.

Chrome, google voice, chat, chromeOS, etc.  Software doorstops, all of them.

I don't use gmail because I have a yahoo id from way back, and I don't like the ads they target at me.  I don't install google toolbar and their indexer because I'm paranoid about what they want to find out about me.  The only thing I use is google maps, but now that's getting creepy because they show me a starter location that is close to where I am.  I also use google search, but that's also getting a little creepy.


jayja 12/5/2012 | 5:08:55 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

I'll bet brookseven's paycheck that it's PtP Ethernet.  Unbundling GPON is problemetic.  And PtP Ethernet is the favored currency of the non-incumbent (i.e., Google) crowd.

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:08:53 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS

For TDM/TDMA PON, you don't unbundle the fiber from the transport.  You unbundle the transport from the service.   So the wholesale service is a VPN.  As Seven says, it' not like unbundling copper with UNE-L. 

For WDM PON, you unbundle wavelengths.

Seven raises the point of resource management.  It's certainly a technical issue, but I'd argue that core principles of non-discrimination and transparency would lead to appropriate scheduling disciplines and provisioning practices.

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:08:53 PM
re: Google's 1-Gig Fiber Winner: Kansas City, KS


The only real issue with unbundling all of this stuff is where are the points of oversubscription and how are they managed.  I agree with Duh that it is quite doable on GPON.  I believe most people think of unbundling and think of a UNE-L model.  However a more virtual model like Project Pronto had has its advantages for ISPs that are using it - like getting a concentrated interface instead of having to provide the concentrator.  It also has its downsides - like you can not offer whatever willy nilly service you want but have to fall into well known buckets.




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