Kansas City (both Kansas and Missouri) residents who want a gigabit of broadband speed delivered over a fiber pipe and a 100-plus-channel TV package for prices that can run as high as $120 a month can now get it thanks to Google Fiber, the long-awaited FTTH service from the search engine that wants to be so much more.
There are some qualifications on how you get to be part of what Google describes as the gateway to "instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven't even dreamed of, powered by a gig."
Residents must pre-register with some "basic" information and a $10 fee to be on the list of those eligible for network installation. Chances of the FTTH network reaching their neighborhoods (Google likes to call them fiberhoods) increase exponentially if they also "rally" their neighbors to sign up as well.
"We'll install only where there's enough interest, and we'll install sooner in fiberhoods where there's more interest," said a Google blog post outlining the qualifications and what Google Fiber means. "The rally lasts for six weeks and ends on September 9. When you participate, not only will you help bring Google Fiber to your home, you'll also help bring it to your community--if your fiberhood reaches its pre-registration goal, we'll also connect community buildings like schools, libraries, libraries and hospitals with free Gigabit Internet."
Those who sign-up are being offered three basic packages, starting with a $120-a-month deal called Gigabit + Google Fiber TV. The Google blog described this top-line offer as "a gig (of broadband) plus TV, designed for how you watch today and how you'll watch tomorrow. The package promises "hundreds of channels," including locals and "tens of thousands of shows on demand in crystal clear HD."
There will be some gaping holes in the initial 161-channel lineup posted on the Google website. Cable mainstays AMC Networks (currently embroiled in a fees dispute with satellite provider Dish Network) Disney/ESPN, CNN, TBS, Fox and HBO are all missing. Local channels are there, as are packages of popular Viacom channels (recently part of a dispute with DirecTV) and Comcast's NBCUniversal package of channels.
Technologically, Google's IPTV set-top boxes will have eight tuners and two terabytes of storage. And if this isn't enough to convince consumers, Google has tossed in a Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote control. For now, the company said, a $300 construction fee is being waived.
The second tier is a $70 monthly Gigabit Internet that includes a gigabit-enabled "network box" with advanced Wi-Fi and a terabyte of cloud storage on Google Drive. The $300 construction fee is again waived.
The third package is Free Internet which is not completely free since the $300 construction fee is no longer waived. This package is for those who are not ready to yet commit to one of the other packages, the blog said, adding those who pre-register and whose "fiberhood" gets installed will "have the option to get a 5 megabit per second (Mbps) connection for zero monthly charge, and you home will be wired and ready for the switch."
Of course the trick is to pre-register then get your friends and neighbors (the two are not the same thing) to do the same. That's part of a Google scheme to let the Kansas City community "choose where we install and when," wrote Milo Medin, vice president of access services in his own blog. "This is an exciting new project for Google and we can't wait to get homes connected to Google Fiber in Kansas City--because we're pretty certain that what people do with a gig will be awesome."
For those who pre-register and who have friends and neighbors who might want to do the same.
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