Gigabit Cities

Google Fiber Moves a Step Closer to Cable

Google Fiber is using its fiber network for something new. Or maybe more accurately, something old.

After reports surfaced in January about Google Fiber Inc. testing a new landline service, the Internet giant announced today the launch of Google Fiber Phone. Fiber Phone is very similar to Google Voice except it runs over Google Fiber's own network infrastructure. The service costs $10 per month and offers unlimited domestic calling with international rates typically hovering between a penny or two and a dime per minute.

Like Google Voice, Fiber Phone hosts a user's phone number in the cloud making it possible to forward calls to a mobile device as needed. The service also includes several old-school features like call waiting, caller ID and 911 emergency services, as well as free voicemail transcription with messages made accessible over text or email.

Want to learn more about Google Fiber? There's still time to register for our Gigabit Cities Live event in Charlotte on April 5 and hear Google Fiber's Michael Slinger speak.

So why introduce landline service? Google Fiber says the technology is still important to many families, and it may see an opportunity to reintroduce the concept of a single number that reaches multiple people in a household. The company may also, however, simply believe that offering a triple-play bundle of services -- video, voice and data -- is necessary to compete with incumbent cable and telecom operators.

So far Google Fiber isn't saying which communities will get the new Fiber Phone service first, but it will eventually roll out landline voice to all of its Fiber cities. Fiber deployments have been slow to date, but the company plans to ramp up its network build-outs in 2016. Newer cities on the Google Fiber list for this year include Atlanta; Nashville; Salt Lake City; and Charlotte, NC. (See Google Will Accelerate Fiber, Cloud in 2016 and Alphabet Is Serious About Google Fiber.)

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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