Is Google Fiber the Future?
If you haven’t heard of it before, Google Fiber is Google’s super-fast internet service. The reason why you might not have heard about it is that it is only available in a few places – Kansas City in Kansas, Austin in Texas, and Provo in Utah. But what it is all about?
If you live in one of the places where it’s available, Google Fiber is a big deal. It offers speeds of 1Gbps which is 50 to 100 times faster than most internet service providers. There is also a low-speed free version plus a bigger version which includes a cable-like television service.
If you are like the millions of other people languishing on speeds more like 5Mbps you are probably salivating and trying to resist the urge to open another tab to find out when Google Fiber is coming to your area. Hold on a minute though, as there is a bit more to it than this.
Is Everything as it Seems?
Google announced it was going to become an internet service provider in March 2010. Since then it has insisted that this is a new product that it is working to make profitable and would then expand slowly. Simple, isn’t it? Maybe it is, but many people think there is more to it than this.
Look at another Google product as an example: the internet browser Chrome. Why did Google make Chrome? It is a free product and it is a piece of software that resides on a user’s computer, something that is different to Google’s main area of business. But they invested the money to make it and they continue spending money updating it. Why? The answer lies with the other browsers that were available at the time that they first launched Chrome.
Most people back then used Internet Explorer or Firefox and in Google’s opinion they were not good. And when a browser is not good it means that internet users don’t have a good experience when on the internet. And when people don’t have a good experience they will not use it as much. And when people don’t use the internet, they are not using Google’s other products – the money-making products.
So Google had two objectives when it decided to make Chrome:
- To give users a better browser
- To encourage the manufacturers of the other main browsers to make them better
Google has achieved both of these objectives and the result is that people have a more pleasant experience on the internet – or said another way, a more pleasant experience using Google’s products.
The Need for Speed
One of the biggest issues now for people using the internet is browsing speed. For Google this presents the same problem as they faced when looking at browsers – if the internet is slow people will use it less and if they are using the internet less they are using Google’s products less. The answer is to give people faster internet, and so Google Fiber was born.
So back to the question of when is Google Fiber coming to a location near you? The answer in the long run is it is unlikely to matter. As with the browser experience Google probably has two strategies at play. The first is to get customers signed up to Google Fiber and to make it profitable. The second is to encourage other internet service providers to compete by offering a similar service. For Google, this is a win-win. For you it means Google might not offer you super-fast broadband, but someone will.
Another insight into Google’s strategy in terms of internet access and speed is the company’s involvement with satellite internet. Google has a spin-off company called O3b which builds and launches satellites that provide internet access worldwide to locations not served by traditional internet service providers.
And what does O3b mean? It means the Other 3 Billion which refers to the people in the world who don’t have internet access at all, or don’t have good internet access.
Will Google make money as a fiber and satellite internet service provider? It probably will. But it will make much more when everyone has faster connections from all internet service providers and as a result start using Google’s other products more.