Google Fiber is doubling down on speed... and putting other ISPs on notice.
After about a decade of delivering up to 1 Gbit/s on its fiber-to-the-premises network and, more recently, on fixed wireless networks via its 2016 acquisition of Webpass, Google Fiber is close to launching a new 2Gbit/s offering to select customers that are part of the ISP's Trusted Tester program.
Google Fiber will start to sell the new, limited-availability tier – simply referred to as "2 Gig" – for $100 per month (just $30 more than the baseline 1-Gig broadband product), and pair the connection with a new Wi-Fi 6 router and Wi-Fi mesh extender.
Google Fiber, which has recently returned to a limited form of market expansion, is currently seeking 2-Gig testers in Nashville and Huntsville (with service slated to start next month). The ISP expects to extend the new, faster offering to most of the Google Fiber and Google Fiber Webpass cities in "early 2021."
"When it comes to Internet, fast is never fast enough," proclaimed Amalia O'Sullivan, Google Fiber's director of product management, in this blog post about the 2 Gig plan.
She notes that faster Internet speeds and access to more data capacity have become even more important as customers link more and more devices to their core broadband connection and as consumers and students increasingly work and learn from home.
Move will apply 2-Gig pressure on other ISPs
Google Fiber's coming move to 2-Gig service will no doubt put pressure on cable operators, telcos and other ISPs to follow suit just as they were forced to do when Google Fiber first raised the speed bar to 1-Gig.
Comcast already offers a pricey symmetrical 2Gbit/s residential service – branded as Gigabit Pro – on a targeted basis using FTTP. Meanwhile, many US cable operators have launched 1-Gig residential broadband service (at least in the downstream direction) on their DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1 hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks, but are nowhere near delivering 1-Gig yet on the upstream side.
Update: A fully-loaded, current-generation DOCSIS 3.1 modem can support about enough raw capacity to make a 2-Gig service technically doable, an industry vet points out. But the bigger question is the amount of spectrum that is applied to the upstream path and how (and how quickly) that capacity could be added in the upstream via a mid-split or high-split upgrade.
HFC networks will also be in position to match the speeds of Google Fiber's new offering with DOCSIS 4.0, a set of new CableLabs specifications that will expand the amount of spectrum dedicated to the downstream and upstream and support multi-gigabit speeds. CableLabs is preparing to start DOCSIS 4.0 product certification testing by early 2022, but the emergence of Google Fiber's new product could cause cable operators and their suppliers to accelerate DOCSIS 4.0 product development and field trial timelines. But at the very least, the new 2 Gig offering could force some cable operators to more rapidly deploy an aforementioned mid-split or high-split. that upgrades the amount of spectrum being dedicated to the upstream.
D4.0 also ties into "10G," a cable industry initiative that is targeting speeds up to 10 Gbit/s over multiple types of access networks – FTTP, HFC and even wireless.
Coincidentally, Mediacom Communications (in tandem with CableLabs and NCTA) is set to host a "10G Smart Home Tour" this Thursday (September 17) in Ames, Iowa, with a focus on 8K video, holographic displays, telemedicine and other apps and services that might require faster speeds, gobs of capacity and super-low latencies.
Mediacom SVP and CTO JR Walden noted via email that the neighborhood demo will be powered by an enhanced DOCSIS 3.1 HFC network that's been upgraded to 1.2GHz, paired with a high-split that bumps up the spectrum dedicated to the upstream to 208MHz. Light Reading will provide more technical and engineering detail on the Mediacom 10G demo later this week.
- Cable '10G' field trials on tap for 2020
- Google Fiber returns to expansion mode through city pact
- Charter in 'no rush' to roll out DOCSIS 4.0
- Cable's next big network move: Expanding the upstream
- Google Fiber dumps 100-Meg service
- Google Fiber: A timeline of the good, the bad and the ugly
- When will cable need 10G?
- Mediacom sets '10G' demo
- It's go time for DOCSIS 4.0
- MaxLinear, Broadcom set to bring silicon stability to DOCSIS 4.0
- Comcast trots out Gigabit Pro… at a price
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading