Gigabit This, Google Fiber!

Gigabit Internet is drawing significant interest as Google Fiber deploys 1Gbit/s broadband service and municipalities seek to become Gigabit Cities. Publicity surrounding Google Fiber's network has raised expectations that Gigabit Internet is a panacea that will raise America's standing in international broadband rankings and cure its ills in education, healthcare, and other fields.

The perceived benefits, whether they come to pass or not, are putting pressure on cable operators to increase their Internet speeds, according to the new Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, "Fast & Furious: Cable Counters Google Gigabit Salvo." The report analyzes whether Gigabit Internet is necessary, the broadband competition in the marketplace, Google Fiber's service, and cable's high-speed Internet developments.

Cable providers have been driving toward faster Internet speeds, but the competitive pressure posed by Google Fiber means they cannot take their foot off the gas, according to the report. "Google Fiber is a catalyst," says John Chapman, CTO, cable access business unit, Cisco. While MSOs do not have to engage in costly rebuilds of their existing hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) architecture, they will need to steadily invest in broadband technology, the report says.

MSOs already provide dedicated-fiber, multi-gigabit Metro Ethernet connections for schools, healthcare networks, and enterprises that are better suited for such speeds than residences, the report says. For the residential market, MSOs are raising access speeds primarily with DOCSIS 3.0 (D3) technologies while preparing for DOCSIS 3.1 (D3.1), which will enable Gigabit-level speeds on HFC plant.

Google Fiber is rolling out in Kansas City-area "Fiberhoods" in Provo, Utah, and plans to deploy in Austin, Texas. Using its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, Google Fiber provides 1Gbit/s symmetrical service for only $70/month to residences. It also offers a traditional cable TV lineup and a low-end data service at 5 Mbit/s down, 1 Mbit/s up.

Meanwhile, the FCC has set a policy goal of establishing a Gigabit City in each state by 2015. Many municipalities are looking at Gigabit Internet service as a path toward better education and healthcare.

The Heavy Reading report explores the Gigabit Internet trend and its implications for cable operators and suppliers. It includes profiles of seven suppliers that support advances in cable's high-speed Internet residential infrastructure.

The cable industry has many broadband weapons in its arsenal. Industry efforts to utilize D3/3.1, node splitting, deep fiber, and optical networking promise to push Internet speeds to 1 Gbit/s and beyond, the report says. While cable is deploying more FTTH in greenfield areas, technology experts believe HFC plant and DOCSIS will remain vibrant and will maintain cable's high-speed growth for years to come.

— Craig Leddy, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

"Fast & Furious: Cable Counters Google Gigabit Salvo," a 15-page report, is available as part of an annual single-user subscription (six issues) to Heavy Reading Cable Industry Insider, priced at $1,595. Individual reports are available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/cable.

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albreznick 10/16/2013 | 5:47:14 PM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day? Good points, David. This is, after all, still a pilot project for Google Fiber. We shouldn't be too hasty to judge what they're doing yet, although it's awful lot of fun to do so, isn't it?
davidhoffman 10/15/2013 | 6:09:25 PM
Re: Sustained 1Gb/s? Or limited to just a few bursts a day? So far the reports from the "start up" houses indicate that data transfer rates are in the high 800s to low 900s in terms of Mbps, when they have workstation and network configurations that can deal with that. These are residential connections with what seems to be best effort terms of service. Google Fiber has not offered any business or enterprise class internet services yet. The thing to remember is that this is still considered a multifaceted research and development project by Google.  Much of the the hardware is experimental and has never been seen before.  Much of the firmware and software has never been used this way before. If a business signs up for internet service from this R&D project, they might not get the usual SLA agreement. I remember a while back when testing indicated the Google Fiber network might not be able to deliver more than 300Mbps symmetrical. Then later there were tests showing a maximum of 600Mbps symmetrical. Today we are seeing reports of 900Mbps, over about an hour, in real world usage. Give Google Fiber another year and I think we will see average speeds of 1000Mbps sustained for at least a few hours per day. 
albreznick 10/15/2013 | 5:58:48 PM
Re: Possibilities Oy. The future sounds more and more appetizing all the time. 
albreznick 10/15/2013 | 5:57:13 PM
Re: Back to the business case Interesting. I bet Google Fiber would love to do ads comparing themselves to Godiva chocolates. Well, when and if Google Fiber ever releases its KC subscriber figures, we'll learn just how many people are willing to pay $70 a month for blazing-fast broadband speeds that they don't need and won't need for some time to come. We'll also learn just how much of an impulse buy 1Gig could be.     
davidhoffman 10/15/2013 | 5:47:05 PM
Re: Back to the business case If 2014 Corvettes cost only $20,000 instead of $80,000, a lot more people would buy them, because they want them much more than the V-6 Mustang they can get for $20,000.  They do not necessarily need the Corvette, but they do want it.   The same is true for internet data transfer rates.  Very few people need data transfer rates above 100Mbps symmetrical, but a lot of people would suscribe to 1Gbps symmetrical if it was as inexpensive as what Google Fiber is charging for it. I do not need Godiva Chocolate, but if I have some extra money I might get some, because I want it more compared to my want for Hershey's Chocolate. 
mendyk 10/15/2013 | 3:18:57 PM
Re: Possibilities We'll be able to disagree with one another much faster thanks to fiber. And Springsteen will have to rewrite his song to "57 Thousand Channels (And Nothin' On)."
GeoTel 10/15/2013 | 1:26:29 PM
Possibilities It will be interesting to see how having readily available fiber optics will transform America. Currently most people are on copper, which is so limited. Fiber is capable of speeds up to 100 GigE and some people estimate that will reach 400 GigE. While we don't exactly know where this will go, the potential is really exciting. 
albreznick 10/14/2013 | 7:46:59 PM
Re: Back to the business case It's going to be almost all businesses for a while, I'll bet, except for a few hardy early adopters and some very avid gamers. Even at $70 or $80 a month, it's tough to see who else wants or needs that much bandwidth right now.  
albreznick 10/14/2013 | 7:45:07 PM
Re: How may signing up for gigabit Ethernet ? Pretty interesting that they haven't done so yet. I suspect their take rate is still in the single-digit percentages or else they would have told us by now. Even the most successful overbuilders struggle to reach the 20 percent penetration mark. So it's going to take a lot for Google Fiber to appear successful in KC and elsewhere.
craigleddy 10/14/2013 | 6:28:24 PM
Re: How may signing up for gigabit Ethernet ? Good question. Google Fiber has not disclosed its take rates. You can find more information about their TV lineup here: https://fiber.google.com/cities/kansascity/channels/

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