In the early 2000s, fiber-optic internet was not unheard of—Verizon had first deployed its Fios service in 2004—but fiber-optic cable lines were expensive to lay and the service was stalling. For the most part, the high-end market was served by cable and the low-end by DSL.
Enter Google Fiber. In 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was tasked with providing broadband speeds of at least 100 Mbps to at least 100 million Americans by 2020. Tech giant Google stepped up to the challenge. Google Fiber rolled out in test markets across the country starting in 2010 and by 2016, 30% of urban dwellers could access gigabit internet service—more than 100 times faster than the average speed in 2010.
The service stopped expanding in 2016, then returned with much more modest expansion plans in 2017. It is unknown whether they will eventually expand again, but Google Fiber locations that already have service are still well supported today. If available in your area, Google Fiber’s cost is highly competitive with other providers and the service is a highly reliable option for internet, streaming TV and phone.
Where is Google Fiber available?
Google Fiber availability is currently limited to just 18 cities as of early 2020. The Google Fiber map shows a decided preference for urban areas, which makes sense as it was originally installed in “test cities.” If you live in a Google Fiber city, enter your address on its website to find out if your home is covered.
Google Fiber products
Google Fiber offers two services: gigabit internet (1,000 Mbps or 1 Gbps) and home phone service. Because Google Fiber’s speed is so fast, you also can take advantage of high-bandwidth technologies like HD streaming, online gaming and heavy internet use, though you’ll need to pair your service with the applicable TV and streaming services.
Fiber-optic internet, such as Google Fiber, offers speeds of up to 1,000 Mbps for both downloads and uploads which distinguishes it from other types of gigabit internet where upload speeds tend to be far slower, in the range of 35 Mbps. Google Fiber gigabit internet costs $70/mo. as of March 2020. Features include free installation, no contracts and no data caps.
Until recently, Google Fiber also offered its own branded TV services. With the increased popularity of streaming TV, however, the company announced on February 4, 2020, that it would no longer offer traditional television services to new customers. Instead, Google recommends YouTube TV or fuboTV.
YouTube TV has more than 70 channels, including up to six accounts and three simultaneous streams. Sports channels and premium channels are available as add-ons for additional fees. Features include no contracts, unlimited cloud DVR storage for up to nine months and local network coverage.
fuboTV has several packages and a variety of premium and sports channel add-ons available for additional fees. Features include cloud DVR storage (amount varies by package), streaming on two or more devices simultaneously and no contracts.
If you need a home phone, Google Fiber can provide it for just $10/mo. with a Google Fiber internet account. Google Fiber phone works just like a traditional home phone but with extra features like voicemail-to-text transcription and forwarding to your mobile phone.
* Prices as of March 2020
How Google Fiber is improving internet access
Google Fiber is working to bring its high-speed services to all public housing communities in its cities at zero cost for residents and housing authorities. The program launched in 2016 at West Bluff in Kansas City and includes partnerships that allow residents to purchase devices at a discount and learn valuable computer skills.
Since debuting the program in Austin in 2013, Google Fiber has been working to provide free gigabit internet for community organizations in its connected cities. The goal is to give members of the local communities a place to access high-speed internet as needed.
The Digital Inclusion Fellowship is designed to pair digital experts with local organizations in Google Fiber cities to help build programs to get more citizens online. Examples include a mobile computing lab and a program to teach parents how to get involved with their children’s schools online.
In partnership with local universities in Google Fiber cities, this initiative is designed to empower college students to help drive solutions that improve connectivity. The focus is on underserved populations, nonprofits and small businesses.
How Google Fiber is providing education to communities
Google Fiber is also committed to improving tech education in the communities it serves. Programs include:
An interactive learning experience for kids, Create Your World explores the connection between coding and topics such as animation and music. Learning to code is part of the experience.
In partnership with local universities in Google Fiber cities, this program provides free summer app development camps for high school students. Participants use smartphones on loan from Sprint to develop Android apps.
In the Fiber Space makes Google Fiber space available to community organizations. Priority is given to groups who want to showcase ideas and offer programming related to STEM, community engagement or bridging the digital divide.
StartFEST is a grassroots, five-day festival for startups and local entrepreneurs. It includes a competition for a cash prize.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much is Google Fiber?
Google Fiber’s price starts at $70/mo as of March 2020.
How fast is Google Fiber?
As of early 2020, Google Fiber speed is 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps) for both downloads and uploads. This distinguishes it from other types of gigabit internet in that its upload speeds are equal to download speeds.
Where is Google Fiber available?
Google Fiber is currently available in 18 cities across the United States. Check the Google Fiber map to see if it’s offered in your city.
How does Google Fiber work?
Google Fiber uses fiber-optic cable lines to deliver high-speed internet to its customers. Because fiber-optic cables use light to transmit signals, they allow for much faster data transfer than other internet options.