“Google Fiber” is a name that’s practically synonymous with super-fast internet. You’ve probably heard about it as it makes its way to various cities around the U.S. Or perhaps you came across the name as it relates to Google’s efforts to reduce some of the inequality that leaves low-income Americans with slow or unreliable internet access. But if it was only recently announced that Google Fiber is on its way to your city, you may be wondering what you need to know about the service. When will Google Fiber be in your city, what speeds can you expect with the service, and how much are you going to pay each month? Read on for all of those answers and more.
Is Google Fiber in your city?
The best way to figure out which cities Google Fiber is in, and is coming to in the future, is to check out Google’s website. On the Google Fiber page, you can check out where Fiber is available, where it’s rolling out next, and which cities Google is considering for future expansions. Google Fiber is currently available in Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Kansas City, Kansas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Provo, Utah.
Upcoming Google Fiber cities include Charlotte, North Carolina; Huntsville, Alabama; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; and San Francisco, California. And cities that Google is considering for future Google Fiber expansions include Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Irvine, California; Jacksonville, Florida; Los Angeles, California; Louisville, Kentucky; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; San Diego, California; San Jose, California; and Tampa, Florida.
As Google explains on its website, “planning and building a new network from scratch takes time – and we want to work closely with every city to map out and understand all possible local needs and challenges.” Bringing Fiber to a new city requires numerous phases, including exploration, design, construction, sign up, and installation.
Essentially, the process involves Google reviewing infrastructure and permitting capabilities to ensure that a city is ready for a brand-new network. Then, the company creates a map of where it can build based on existing utility poles and water, gas, and electricity lines. After that, it lays “thousands of miles” of new fiber optic cable. In the sign up phase, Google divides cities into smaller communities, or “Fiberhoods,” and focuses on one at a time before moving on to building in the next part of the city. Finally, the process is complete when homes and businesses get their new service installed.
What speed will you get with Google Fiber?
The appeal of Google Fiber is that it offers super-fast internet: speeds up to 1000Mbps (also called a gigabit). The appeal of faster internet is obvious if you share a home with many housemates, or children with voracious Netflix and YouTube appetites. But even if it’s just you and your cat in your apartment, you can still benefit from faster internet. You’ll spend less time watching videos buffer, and download anything from photos to games to movies significantly faster.
Google Fiber is faster than your current internet network because it uses fiber optics: a technology that transmits data by sending light down strands of glass, instead of transmitting electrical signals via wires. While internet speeds on copper wiring can reach up to 1,000Mbps, internet speeds on fiber optic networks can reach up to 10Gbps. If your current speed is about 5Mbps, Google Fiber is up to 200 times faster. If you’re currently getting 10Mbps, Google Fiber will be up to 100 times faster. If you get 25Mbps, Fiber is up to 40 times faster. And if you’re currently getting 50Mbps, Fiber will be up to 20 times faster. It’s a little difficult to imagine exactly what it would be like to download a movie 20 or 200 times faster than the speed you usually get. But suffice it to say that tasks that require you to wait around for minutes at a time on a slower network will take just seconds on Google Fiber.
As Google explains on one of its Fiber Help pages, there are a number of factors that can cause even your Google Fiber network to slow down, from old hardware to slow connections to the fact that video takes priority over data if you have one or more TV Boxes turned on. It’s also important to realize that when you have Google Fiber installed, you’re going to get the fastest speeds with a wired connection. However, you can use the Network Box, Google’s gigabit router, to get online wirelessly, with all of the devices you use at home, and you’ll still get faster wireless speeds than you’d expect with other networks.
What about TV? Or my home phone?
With Google Fiber, you not only get faster internet, but you can also try out Google’s vision of what TV should be. You can get more than 150 channels, and you can use a smart search function to find your favorite shows or discover new ones. Google Cast is built in, which means that you can watch anything on your Android phone on the big screen by casting it to your television. Alternatively, you can mirror anything you’re looking at in the Chrome browser on your computer to your TV.
The fiber connection offers the bandwidth for great high-resolution TV, and the Google Fiber DVR feature can record up to eight shows simultaneously and store up to 500 hours of TV thanks to the 2 terabytes of storage in the Network Box. Best of all? You can download the Google Fiber TV app on your Android or iOS devices to turn any of them into a remote control.
You can also use Fiber Phone, Google’s home phone service, for an additional $10 per month. Fiber Phone offers unlimited nationwide calling, and you can either stick with your existing number or choose a new one. You’ll also get features like spam filtering, call screening, and a do-not-disturb setting to make sure that you’re only getting the calls you want, plus standard features like caller ID, voicemail, and 911 service. You can even get calls on your smartphone or transcribe voicemails into text.
How much does Google Fiber cost?
Pricing and plans vary by city, but Google Fiber subscription costs are generally in the same ballpark regardless of where you live. If you want gigabit speeds, you can typically either opt for an internet and TV package that costs $130 each month, or an internet plan that costs $70 per month. In either case, you get internet speeds up to a gigabit. Depending on your city, you may also be able to choose a cheaper plan that offers slower speeds, in the event that you don’t really need the fastest internet speeds available. Taxes and fees will vary based on the market, and you can always check the details on Google’s website to see how much you should budget for a new Google Fiber subscription.