Google Testing 3.5GHz WiFi in Kansas City

Google has been granted approval to test its new 3.5GHz wireless technology within Kansas City, Missouri, using antennae mounted on street lights and other structures to deliver high-speed WiFi to eight areas within the city.

“3.5GHz is pretty innovative and could help Google create a city wide broadband network in KC,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics, told Computer World.

The trial – part of the Federal Communications Committee’s (FCC) Citizens Broadband Radio Service, which aims to deliver 3.5GHz “innovation band” WiFi to cities across the US, using dynamic spectrum sharing – is set to last up to 18 months and will be placed in areas that cannot be practically reached by Google Fiber connections.

“If Google is successful in the 3.5GHz test and goes on to provide commercial services, KC will become the most wirelessly connected gigabit region to benefit from new advanced wireless services,” Assistant City Manager Rick Usher said.

The Kansas City Council voted 11-2 in favour of the 3.5GHz WiFi trial, with Google granted a discounted rate for maintaining the network during the test period.

“Shared spectrum in the 3.5GHz space has the potential to reduce costs and assist in our efforts to erase the digital divide in KC,” Usher added. “Wireless connectivity is a critical element of smart city success due to the massive amount of data generated and utilized in the networks.”

Google Fiber Home Phone Service Announced

It had already been revealed in a leak of the trial program, but now Google has publicly announced Fiber Phone, the home phone addition to the existing Google Fiber high-speed internet and television package. This comes as part of a move by Google to offer a single package of broadband, TV and landline in a single package, as despite the increasing move towards mobile phones, many still consider a landline important and according to Google Fiber’s product manager, John Shriver-Blake, they are planning to bring the landline into the future.

Fiber Phone costs $10 per month, which will include unlimited local and nationwide calling and rates identical to the existing Google Voice service for international calls. Fiber Phone also takes cloud-stored phone numbers from Voice, with users able to take either an existing phone number with them to Fiber Phone or pick a new one and have it available wherever they are. “You can use it on almost any phone, tablet or laptop. It can ring your landline when you’re home, or your mobile device when you’re on-the-go,” said Shriver-Blake. And if you can’t take a call, the service will transcribe your voicemail messages into text and send them to you via text or email, so you won’t have to rely on calling up voicemail.

The service won’t be rolling out to all Fiber-supported locations immediately, with it planned to be slowly made available to all customers in Fiber cities. Getting Fiber Phone will involve signing up with Google and going through a “simple installation process”, including a Fiber Phone Box that works with existing home phones. How quickly this rollout will happen is unclear, but those interested in the service can sign up for the latest updates here and be ready for when it is available in their location.

Google to Add Home Phone Service to Fiber Customers

Google’s super fast internet offering, Google Fiber is the envy of those outside of the select few locations it has been rolled out. Touting 1 gigabit per second bandwidth for both uploads and downloads, it puts the common superfast packages of 1 or 2 hundred megabits to shame. Now they look to be planning to add a home phone service to the package, with members of Fiber’s Trusted Tester program receiving invites to try out the system ahead of everyone else.

Unlike most internet packages that include a phone line as part of the package, because Google Fiber provides a fiber optic connection directly to the user’s premises, a landline is not required and not offered by the internet giant. Adding a phone service to the Fiber package would bring their offering up to the same type of “triple-play” bundle that comprises of internet, TV and phone services.

Offering a phone service looks to be taking into account the existing Google Voice service, with this new offering taking a number of features from Voice, including a cloud phone number, transcribed voicemail delivered to an email inbox and the ability to screen calls based on the person and time. Users will also be allowed to make use of an existing phone number for use with the service, or get an entirely new number with the service.

For now, the service is yet to be formally announced by Google, so whether it goes ahead is likely based on the adoption and feedback from their Trusted Testing group. Could Google Fiber continue to be a more and more attractive package for those able to get it, negating the need for a separate landline, or will it be reaching too far? Only time will tell.

Comcast CEO Calls For an End to Unlimited Data

Of all the major internet service providers, the most universally derided is Comcast and its outdated data caps, a policy that the company’s internal memos reveal is a cynical marketing ploy. Now, the CEO of Comcast, Brian Roberts, has spoken to Business Insider about its data policy, with Roberts advocating the abolition of unlimited data, equating it to giving unlimited fuel for motor-vehicle drivers.

“Just as with every other thing in your life, if you drive 100,000 miles or 1,000 miles you buy more gasoline. If you turn on the air conditioning to 60 vs. 72 you consume more electricity,” Roberts told Business Insider’s Henry Blodget during the IGNITION conference on Tuesday. “The same is true for [broadband] usage.” Cellular data is already billed this way, “the more bits you use, the more you pay. So why not cable Internet, too?”

Roberts also disputed the semantics of the term “data cap”, asserting that it does not prevent customers from exceeding their data limit, instead charging them for the excess. “They’re not a cap,” he said. “We don’t want anybody to ever not want to stay connected on our network.”

Roberts may just be saying what other ISPs are thinking, but vocalising it may not be the smartest business move, and only reinforces the perception of Comcast as putting profits above customers, and risks them losing ground to the emergent Google Fiber, which offers unlimited data as standard.

Image courtesy of Comcast.

Google Fiber Coming to Low-Income Housing For Free

It is estimated that 26% of US household with incomes less than $30,000 have no internet. Now, thanks to a new Google initiative, those households will be eligible for free gigabit internet. The internet giant has announced that will give select low-income households Google Fiber, free of charge, as part of the ConnectHome initiative.

As announced on the Google Fiber blog:

“The web is where we go to connect with people, learn new subjects, and find opportunities for personal and economic growth. But not everyone benefits from all the web has to offer. As many as 26% of households earning less than $30,000 per year don’t access the Internet, compared to just 3% of adults with annual incomes over $75,000. Google Fiber is working to change that. Today, in all of our Google Fiber markets, we’re launching a program to connect residents in select public and affordable housing properties for $0/month with no installation fee.”

ConnectHome is a program launched in partnership with the White House and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to bring internet access to families living in HUD-assisted housing, which comprises 28 communities across the country. For now, ConnectHome will be focusing on properties within Atlanta, Durham, Nashville and Kansas City, with a view to roll out the initiative further in the future.

A further part of ConnectHome will be offering courses on basic computer skills, since many families that will be eligible for free Google Fiber will lack internet experience.

Thank you Google Fiber Blog for providing us with this information.

Google Fiber Users Receiving Automated Fines for Piracy

Google is sending customers of its fibre service that are suspected of illegally downloading copyrighted materials automated fines. Google Fiber users have received fines, sent through automated e-mails, of up to hundreds of dollars. Other automated messages from the internet provider include takedown notices to users thought to be hosting pirated data.

Google, though its search engine, usually has a good record at protecting users from DMCA takedown notices from copyright holders, so the company’s use of automated fines as a first point of contact is surprising. Settlement fees send through such e-mails tend to range from anywhere between $20 and $300. Even ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T protects its customers from such settlement demands, which makes Google allowing these e-mails, though copyright enforcers such as Rightscorp and CEG TEK a real concern.

According to Mitch Stoltz, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), ISPs are no required by law to forward DMCA notices to users, and should be obliged to carefully review any such notice before taking action.

“In the U.S., ISPs don’t have any legal obligation to forward infringement notices in their entirety. An ISP that cares about protecting its customers from abuse should strip out demands for money before forwarding infringement notices. Many do this,” Stoltz says.

“The problem with notices demanding money from ISP subscribers is that they’re often misleading. They often give the impression that the person whose name is on the ISP bill is legally responsible for all infringement that might happen on the Internet connection, which is simply not true,” he adds.

Google has so far refused to comment on the matter.

Thank you Torrent Freak for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Techno Buffalo.

Google Fiber Project Aims to Provide UK Homes with Ultrafast Internet Connection

Google is said to be planning on expanding its Google Fiber services in British cities. The move is said to put a lot of pressure on BT and its upgraded network, having Google offering speeds of up to 10 times faster than what BT currently has to offer.

The corporate giant has reportedly been in talks with a British company by the name of CityFibre, hoping that a partnership between the two will bring the Google Fiber services to UK citizens. However, CityFibre is said to have concerns regarding the partnership with Google.

It is said that CityFibre’s partnership with BSkyB would be threatened if a partnership with Google would be formed, having BSkyB to see Google as a rival in the pay-TV market. Also, BSkyB and TalkTalk are said to be funding a pilot fibre-optics network, reaching 20,000 homes and businesses in York.

Though Google publicly said it will not bring its fibre outside of the US, a source has stated that the company is talking with “people here in the UK and looking at projects”. The move seems to make sense, since the UK has been known to be the biggest market outside of the US.

Google is said to currently provide its fibre optic services in four major US cities, which is said to extend into 34 additional cities this year. While BT’s network is said to rely on copper wire technology for the home-street connection, Google Fiber is said to rely entirely on fibre optic connections.

Thank you Telegraph for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Telegraph

AT&T To Bring 300Mbps Fiber To Austin

Austin, Texas seems to be the new place to be if you are interested in a blazing fast Internet connection as AT&T has announced plans to deploy fiber in the city that will ultimately provide speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

Known as GigaPower, the service will be an extension of AT&T’s existing U-verse program. At launch, it will be limited to 300 Mbps on the upstream and downstream which is said to be the fastest available to consumers from any Austin broadband provider.

GigaPower will initially reach tens of thousands of customers throughout Austin and the surrounding areas later this year. Those that sign up for the 300 Mbps service will be upgraded to speeds up to 1 gigabit per second at no extra cost when it becomes available in mid-2014.

Dave Nichols, President of AT&T Texas, said Austin embodies innovation and social consciousness and is the heart of a vibrant, ever-evolving tech culture and entrepreneurial spirit. With their all-fiber U-verse services, they are building the foundation for a new wave of innovation for Austin’s consumers, businesses and civic and educational institutions, he said.

Google Fiber is already available in Kansas City, and Google is now running ads for the service in Provo, Utah, where it will launch in mid-October. The service has generated a lot of buzz, and AT&T is hoping that it can overcome some of this in Austin by coming out first.

The fee for Google Fiber is $70 per month for Internet service and $120 per month with a TV bundle. For comparison, Verizon’s 500 megabit-per-second service is only available for homes in a phone and TV package for $309.99 per month.

Google may have an advantage with Fiber by starting from scratch and installing a brand new fiber optic network. This allows all Fiber customers to experience the same speeds. AT&T will instead by tapping into an existing network of fiber optics and copper lines, meaning that not everyone will get the same speed.

AT&T said this is just the start of its super high-speed services, but did not state where it plans to go next.

Thank you TechSpot and IBTimes for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of IBTimes.

Australia Could Be Getting 1Gbps Internet By The End The Year

Currently if you are interested in getting your hands on some Fiber optic internet with super fast 1Gbps or more speeds then you can only do that by going to Provo, Austin or Kansas City (in the USA) and using Google’s Fiber service. Or failing that you could use Japan’s just launched 2Gbps internet service in collaboration with Sony. However, that really is about it in terms of your options. Although if Australia’s NBN (National Broadband Network) stay true to their word then we could be seeing 1Gbps internet in Australia by the end of this year.

According to NBN its wholesale internet provision would offer a 1Gbps service for AU$15o/US$155 a month. There would also be a 500mbps and 250mbps service as well. Note that there will also be ISP fees and other costs added to this price so expect it to be a lot higher than US$155. This is because NBN provide wholesale open-access data but ISPs still have to split this connection up and deliver it to consumers and businesses.

Most households will find very little use for such ridiculously high speeds but it is nice to see the internet moving forward and Australia looks very lucky if this actually happens.

However, there have been many criticisms of the plan that are VERY significant. They include, but are not limited to:

  • These high speeds are being rolled out to areas where it isn’t needed and Central Business Districts (CBDs) and high density residential areas are being neglected
  • The technology is capable of 1Gbps but under current plans 1Gbps will only run to each node/exchange and after being divided only 100mbps will be supported at household level (unless you have enough money to get a node/exchange fitted at your address which some business would be capable of)
  • This fiber rollout plan had already been started 2 years ago and progress is very slow so the target of “by the end of this year” may only be true for a minority of people
  • Australia’s opposition party wants to reduce it to 50mbps at household level and based on early opinion polls it seems they will win the next election

So the potential is there for 1Gbps internet in Australia, but politics and corner-cutting will probably stop it from happening. What are your thoughts on this story?


Google Study Shows Internet Is Getting Faster

We are always making huge leaps forward in technology yet is this ever actually reflected in changes for everyone or just for the technologically elitist among us? Well Google’s latest study would suggest we are all benefiting. Advances in desktop internet technologies, fiber optic and broadband, as well as in mobile internet technologies, 3G and 4G, are seeing everyone’s internet experience get faster. As the graph above shows the desktop market experienced a marginal increase in average page load time versus 2012 while the mobile market achieved a huge improvement shaving off nearly 3 seconds of the average mobile page load time of 2012.

If we have a look at some regional trends we can see Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, USA, Russia, Vietnam, China and Germany have some of the fastest desktop internet connections.

While in the mobile markets Japan, Sweden, Germany, USA, the United Kingdom, Canada and China all have some of the fastest mobile internet. Germany, China, Canada and the USA made some of the biggest leaps forward in mobile internet performance.

In terms of year on year performance changes in desktop internet everywhere improved with exception to some African countries (Madagascar, Gabon, Burkino Faso and Algeria), Syria, Central Asian Countries (Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikstan) and East Asian countries (China and Vietnam). Africa, Asia and South America experienced some of the largest general improvements.

The story with mobile internet was also a similar one as only Ukraine, Estonia and Norway declined according to available data while everyone else improved to some extent. North America, Australasia, China, India, the Middle East and Europe made some of the most rapid improvements while South America, Africa and Asia had relatively slow progress.


AT&T ‘Promises’ To Bring 1 Gbps To Austin after Google’s Official Announcement

Google Fiber’s implementation in Austin was recently announced, but AT&T has decided to follow Google with the 1 Gbps connection PR bandwagon. AT&T has put up their press release where they say that they are prepared to offer advanced fiber optic which can provide 1 Gbps.

AT&T further added the following statement “Today, AT&T announced that in conjunction with its previously announced Project VIP expansion of broadband access, it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second. AT&T’s expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives.”

One will be skeptical, but one would expect at the very least that AT&T may offer few FTTH (Fiber to the home) to a selected number of users- or maybe do offer actual fiber to many of its home users, but it won’t be surprising if the network provider decides to cap these lines as AT&T is well-known to do for a very long time. There’s a questionable remark by the company on the press release where it said that upgrades are “not expected to materially alter AT&T’s anticipated 2013 capital expenditures.” Its not possible to have a network infrastructure with a fiber unless one spends money, therefore this should be some form of expenditure.

However AT&T so far has plans which has problems to keep up with cable, let alone fiber. Its been found that AT&T is barely able to provide 5 Mbps connection to many of their customers. To add further, AT&T is mostly concentrating on wireless internet access and large investor returns. So many would see this attempt by AT&T and their promise to provide 1 Gbps fiber connection at the time when Google is offering the same nothing more than hitch-hiking Google’s thunder and PR impact, which could affect AT&T’s DSL customers .

Source: DSL Reports

Google Fiber May Come To Austin, Texas.

Google and the City of Austin are apparently going to hold a meeting next week for an announcement as both has given away invitations to various media, but both have not provided any details about the reason for the event.

As it says on the invitation itself:

On Tuesday, April 9, at 11 a.m., the City of Austin and Google will make a very important announcement that will have a positive impact on Austinites and the future of the city. We anticipate more than 100 community leaders and elected officials to be in attendance to celebrate this announcement. The event invitation is attached for your convenience. Although we cannot share the details of the announcement with you in advance, we know readers will want to learn more, so we encourage you to join us on Tuesday.

For those who aren’t aware about it yet, Google offers Google Fiber that provides download and upload speeds 100 times more than what consumers in United State get access to at the much lesser prices in comparison with the established internet service providers. Its because of there, there has been an increase of newer tech startup companies in Kansas City.

It was first established in Kansas City in July, which then encourages Time Warner Cable to changer their offer plans. Most likely until now, Kansas City is the only place with Google Fiber. Since Eric Schmidt clarified that isn’t their side project, its only a matter of time that other cities will get to enjoy such service in the near future.

Austin City is not only favourable to many tech startups, but also is a home to many well known tech companies such as Dell, Intel, Samsung and National Computers. The implementation of Google Fiber’s service will boost the city’ favourable conditions for a startup.

According to VentureBeat’s sources, it is being said that the announcement is most likely involves the implementation of Google’s superfast broadband internet service ‘Google Fiber’ in Austin. There is also a possibility of Google opening up a campus in Austin or some sort of partnership that involves the city and one of Google’s service. In any case, it will be involving the city-wide local community.

Source: Venture Beat