By Greg Mills
One Gig per second fiber optic Internet is coming to KCK starting late in the year or very early next year. Google picked Kansas City, Kansas, for a number of obscure reasons that have a lot more to do with our blind luck than anything else. As it turns out a number of odd factors in combination, led Google to choose KCK to test the notion of: what happens if you provide 1 Gig Internet at typical cable modem prices to Americans?
We are a test bed for innovation in applying super fast Internet access to do who knows what? They are going to follow closely to see what happens here to figure out what would happen if 1 Gig was common in the entire US. What novel applications and businesses will result?
Google is betting, and I expect rightly so, that serious internet based innovation will result. That innovation will get more people on line viewing Google ads and doing other things that makes their cash registers ring. Google is a business and they generally have a business angle in what they do. They haven't quoted rates for service yet, but plan to offer 1 Gig internet basically everywhere in KCK for price "similar to current cable broadband rates." I pay US$50 for cable modem service right now for very slow service compared to what is coming.
They were clear that they will be charging reasonable rates for the new service and that there will still be competition, but certainly not at those speeds. Time Warner Cable company currently serves most of the KCK area with cable TV and broadband internet service already. I am sure they are just delighted to have Google come to town and offer people 1000 Meg service at the same price they are selling 6 Meg service.
Kansas City Kansas has a lot of rusty old railroad tracks that run through the dry river bottom along the Kansas River, affectionately called the Kaw around here. Those obsolete railroad rights of way amount to a narrow strip of privately owned land that transverse entire states and the country. A large fiber optic backbone of the US Internet actually runs right through Kansas City, Kansas, and is thus locally accessible for connection. This allows Google to hook up a local fiber optic system here, right now without bringing the backbone in.
The only other 1 Gig fiber optic Internet system up and running in the US I could find in my research is in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Google says the two systems are not based upon the same concept. The Tennessee system sells a tiered level of speeds for various prices. In Chattanooga, Tennessee, you pay $57.99 for 30 Mbps (Megabytes per second), $69.99 for 50 Mbps and $139.99 for 100 Mbps. For a full Gig you pay $350 a month.
Google plans to provide 1 Gig to everyone for $50 or $60 a month. Ironically, Google is a free enterprise company and the Chattanooga system was paid for by a $111,000,000 grant from the US Department of Energy. The Chattanooga Internet project has a cool web site. See http://chattanoogagig.com/ .
An interesting thing that came up at the town meeting is that the Google 1 Gig Internet service here in KCK will be "symmetrical." What that means is normally, you get a relatively fast down speed and a relatively slow up speed. Tonight I got a rather fast for TimeWarner 19.8 Megs download speed and .855 Megs upload speed test result. With Google's service I will get 1000 Megs download and 1000 Megs upload much more dependably. The Internet will go both ways at full throttle with the new symmetrical network. That is huge.
Theoretically, once the fiber system is in place they will be able to enhance it over time and pump it up to as much as 10, Gigs each way. Google didn't promise that tonight. In fact, they were careful not to make any promises they couldn't keep.
They will install the system first where Kansas City Board of Public Utility infrastructure is most helpful and in neighborhoods where there is the greatest demand. That make sense. They plan to also wire up poorer neighborhoods despite the poor rate of return they might expect there. Few people on welfare can afford $50 a month for Internet at any speed.
I asked but never got a clear answer to the question: from the fiber termination point (drop point) on the side of the house, will the internal connection to my router be wired Ethernet or fiber optic? When I find out which is preferred, I can look at prewiring the place ... Might be a business in prewiring if it is anything like the phone companies who now commonly stops at the exterior wall and figure you can find someone to do internal wiring.
One realtor in attendance was very excited as she said her phone was ringing off the hook from people wanting information on vacant land to build on or empty buildings to move businesses in to town. We have a lot of vacant land around here. My wife and I bought 10 acres, and we hope it will be a good long term investment despite the recent downturn in property values we have seen lately.
The demographics of Kansas City are that only 1 in 10 have a college degree, only 3 out of 4 completed high school and about 9% are out of work. The eastern side of the city has lower cost housing and the western side of the city is much more modern and property values are higher. The demographics for education and income are much worse for the illegal aliens inhabiting the older part of downtown. There is hope this will breathe some life into the area. I think it will.
The schools are going to really benefit from super fast Internet. I expect to see the local junior college offer courses in fiber optic networking and programing to take advantage of the opportunity coming to town. The music man has come to River City and we are all singing his tune....
That's Greg's Bite for today.
(Greg Mills is currently a graphic and Faux Wall Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. Greg is an Extra Class Ham Radio Operator, AB6SF, iOS developer and web site designer. He's also working on a solar energy startup using a patent pending process for turning waste dual pane glass window units into thermal solar panels used to heat water see: www.CottageIndustySolar.com Married, with one daughter, Greg writes for intellectual property web sites and on Mac/Tech related issues. See Greg's art web site at http://www.gregmills.info He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org )