In 12 major cities, Google is planning to rely on wireless technology rather than fiber-optic cables, and requesting permission to test wireless in 24 U.S. cities. Google parent company, Alphabet, has also suspended Google Fiber gigabit speed projects in San Jose, California and Portland.
As of right now, Google Fiber has reached six metro areas, the first of which being Kansas City in 2012. This process has cost hundreds of millions of dollars, largely due to the digging up and putting back together of streets and private residences. Google Fiber has not released how many customers they have in Kansas City or any of the other six metro areas. The Google Fiber blog however continues to promote the service, with three new business internet plans, including the $250 a month for 1 Gbps upload and download speeds with no data caps. Those eligible for the three plans include small businesses in Charlotte, North Carolina, Provo Utah, Austin Texas, and Nashville Tennessee.
The prediction that Google Fiber will move to a wireless reliance rather than the fiber-optic cable, is no surprise to analysts comparing industry ISPs. ISPs have plans in place already to deploy smaller cellular equipment for shorter distances to connect homes and small business to the closest high-speed fiber-optic cable. The wireless link could be a short distance away however, perhaps less than 100 feet away from the building or street in question. Also on the market already are small outdoor devices that are “small cell” and called “picocells”, as small as a shoebox, and easily hung from a light post or pole.
AT&T Gigapower is reportedly superseding Google Fiber in citywide fast internet fiber rollouts. Google reliance on wireless however, could significantly influence this report, matching At&T. The speed of deployment with wireless will certainly allow Google to move more easily into more cities, keeping Google Fiber competitive.
Gartner analyst, Bill Menezes, thinks that wireless with have a boatload of advantages for Google, including the speed at which it can be installed, because of the elimination of having to drop a cable line on premise. This most certainly makes sense, as the service provider can ship to the customer directly, the premise receiver and self installation software, cutting the need for on-site installation. Menezes relays that it will be crucial that Google test the effectiveness and speed of wireless technology. Reliance on wireless technology at a higher frequency will transit over a short distance and have poor in-building penetration, possibly leading to more outdoor antennas such as the shoe box sized picocells.
This past April Google began testing wireless connections in their first Google Fiber location, Kansas City, testing the 3.5 GHz spectrum. This test is believed to last 18 months.
Always keeping things interesting.
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