Google Fiber launches with three plans, one of which is free Internet and one of which intros Google Fiber TV.
On Thursday Google finally launched Google Fiber, the company's Gigabit broadband service currently installed in Kansas City (Kansas, Missouri). The company is actually leaving it up to local residents in determining how the new network will spread across town. Even more, one of three offered packages will be free, requiring no monthly access fee for at least 7 years.
"Google Fiber works better when communities are connected together," the company said. "So we’ve divided Kansas City into small communities we call fiberhoods. We’ll install only where there’s enough interest, and we’ll install sooner in fiberhoods where there’s more interest. You can check out your fiberhood’s pre-registration goal, as well as a real-time status update of all Kansas City fiberhoods on our rankings page."
Starting Thursday, eligible Kansas City residents can pre-register for Google Fiber using basic information and supplying a $10 fee. Then over the next six weeks, the object is to rally neighbors and friends to register as well before the September 9 deadline.
"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 and hospitals with free Gigabit Internet," Google added.
Once the rally is completed, Google will inform each registrant if their fiberhood reached its goal. If so, they'll be able to choose one of three service packages. The first homes will get service shortly after the rally ends, and all qualifying neighborhoods will receive service before the end of 2013.
Here's where it gets interesting, and possibly a little scary for other broadband and cable providers. The first package combines both Gigabit internet and TV programming into one $120/month package. This includes the Nexus 7 tablet, a TV box, a Storage Box (aka DVR), a Network Box (aka Router), and a 1 TB Google Drive account. Naturally taxes and fees are tacked onto the monthly subscription.
The TV service consists of around 160 channels and includes what cable subscribers would find in their Digital TV service as well as local channels (see below). The Nexus 7 tablet is promoted as the customer's "new remote," offered free of charge with this package. There's also an optional Chromebook starting at $299.
Is there a catch? Not really. Google only requires a 2-year contract, and there's no up-front "construction fee." In fact, customers won't even see bandwidth caps as seen with other competing broadband services.
As for the second package, Google is offering Gigabit Internet only for $70/month. This package includes the Network Box and the 1 GB Google Drive account. As with the first package, the $300 "construction fee" is waived, and there is no bandwidth cap. The contract is also only for one year, and customers are offered the Chromebook option with this plan as well.
Finally there's the third package: free Internet. While this sounds great, it actually does come with a price: either $300 up front (the "construction fee"), or $25/mo for 12 months. This plan allows up to 5 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload speeds, but will remain free for at least 7 years. In addition to no data caps, it comes with the Network Box and the optional Chromebook.
Both the $120 and $70 plan offer up to 1 GB upload and download speeds.
So what's next? Will Google Fiber move beyond Kansas City? Eventually, but for now Google is focused on local feedback. With the three plans exposed and Google's interesting "fiberhood" method of deployment, cities are likely already eager to sign up for the new Fiber Gigabit and TV service.
Here's the full list of Google Fiber TV channels now offered to Kansas City residents:
CBS Sports Network
CMT Pure Country
Crime & Investigation Network
De Pelicula Clasico
Discovery en Espanol
Discovery Fit & Health
Game Show Network
Hallmark Movie Channel
KCTV 5 (CBS)
KCWE 29 (CW)
KMBC 9 (ABC)
KPXE 50 (ION)
KSHB 41 (NBC)
KUKC 48 (Univision)
La Familia Cosmovision
Lifetime Move Network
Lifetime Real Women
NBC Sports Network
Olympics Channel 1
Olympics Channel 2
PBS Kids Sprout
Showtime Family Zone
Starz in Black
Starz Kids and Family
The History en Espanol
TMC: The Movie Channel
WDAF 4 (FOX)