Fans of high-speed Internet have been buzzing about Google Fiber since it was a glimmer in the tech giant’s eye. Google Fiber promises connection speeds that leave even most cable and DSL providers in the dust, which is worth getting excited about. Still, most American Internet users shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for Google Fiber to come to their neighborhood. Here’s why.
1. Test Phase
Most tech companies get to keep their research and development process under wraps. Developers of computers, smart devices and even more impressive stuff like practical robots work in quiet, enclosed conditions that stop exciting future tech from touching the outside world, sometimes for years. Google Fiber doesn’t have that option. The company has brought Fiber to places like Kansas City and Austin to test it under real-world conditions. Before Google is ready to launch Fiber nationwide, it will have to spend a long time testing its viability in these limited markets.
Unlike Fiber competitors like cable and telecommunications companies, Google’s main source of revenue isn’t in service packages. Rather, it’s in advertising and app software. The purpose behind the Fiber initiative is to increase the number of Internet users in America and beyond over time, thus increasing Internet traffic and the ad revenue that goes along with it. Google doesn’t need to bring Fiber to the whole world, it just needs to get people excited about high-speed Internet. It doesn’t really matter if their connections are through Fiber or one of its competitors.
The Fiber initiative is one of the most high-profile gigabit-plus Internet projects in America today, but it’s far from the only one. Companies like Verizon provide limited FiOS for users who bundle Internet with other services, making it an attractive option for families. Elsewhere, government-assisted programs connect gigabit-plus projects to the much-needed infrastructure of fiber lines. For example, the city of Seattle is on the cusp of launching its Gigabit Network implementing miles of unused fiber wire owned by the city. Understanding how exactly this works requires a bit of new Internet lingo, but suffice it to say that it’s a lot easier than bringing Google Fiber to town. Google has little incentive to compete with these much more established programs for what remains a fairly limited market of users interested in such high connection speeds.
4. Area Coverage
Google Fiber and gigabit-plus networks in general are very much creatures of the city these days. Because they rely on the infrastructure of fiber lines, these networks benefit from the density of high-population regions. For small towns, more diffuse suburbs and rural communities, fiber is as distant today as other high-speed options were at the dawn of broadband Internet. Unless you live in a decent-sized city, fiber of any sort is likely rather far off for your community.
Make no mistake, Google Fiber and projects like it are worth getting excited about. America has lagged behind in Internet speeds for years, so anything that can propel us back into the top-tier will be good for life and business. Still, there’s a lot of work to do before Google (or anyone else) makes fiber a way of life for Americans.