If you have not heard this already (where have you been?), on July 26, 2012 Google unveiled their detailed plan to rollout 1GBps fiber optic cable to residences in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas. of course they said this was coming a long time ago, but without much detail on how it would happen. This rollout represents an exciting new era of integrated technology for the Kansas City market. Getting traditional Internet, “land line” voice and TV/video in the Kansas City market today can be a frustrating endeavor depending on your address and what services you desire. High speed data and or integrated technology services are simply not available in many areas. Some interesting things can be learned from the activity in the last week since the rollout announcement.
Direct Mail: Google has sent out this direct mail piece to encourage householders to preregister for Google Fiber. Preregistration is Google’s way of determining the most efficient rollout plan so that areas with high demand are targeted first. Google calls these areas Fiberhoods.
Demographics: Within a week it has become clear where the primary demand exists (see maps). In both KCs right along the state line. For a big chunk of the KC area there is a road called State Line that separates the two states and the multiple cities that make up the Kansas side of the metro. The State Line corridor begins near the Kansas University Medical Center and runs approximately 15 miles to the south. The majority of the Kansas side of the corridor is not being offered the Google product today since it is made up of an amalgam of different cities – not Kansas City, Kansas. The State Line corridor represents an affluent stretch of residential neighborhoods and has led some to conclude that the Google Fiber product will be primarily adopted by mid to upper income households. Time will tell if this is true, however the early data would suggest that the answer is yes. Google also considered the demographics of each Fiberhood when setting preregistration goals to qualify for service. Fiberhoods that had larger numbers of single family dwellings had a higher target % of preregistration to get a green status. Fiberhoods that had significant numbers of apartments or condos appear to have lower qualification percentage targets. On the Google Fiber website (click on a map below) the neighborhoods are being sorted by those with the highest qualification percentage, not necessarily those with the highest numbers. It will be interesting to see if Google rolls out the installs based on the qualification percentages or if they use another possibly unknown metric to determine the most efficient rollout process. The Google Fiber team is publishing the answers to many questions about the overall rollout process that touch on demographic related topics. Visit their blog here to get answers: http://googlefiberkc.blogspot.com
Services: Google Fiber will provide mainly high-speed Internet and a select group of what would be considered traditional TV programming (channels as opposed to on-demand content). Google has said they do not plan to offer a “home phone” service with Google Fiber as that is a service that is on the decline. Anyone that wants a “home-based” phone service can easily run this over Google Fiber using MagicJack, Vonage or another VoIP service. Google has been building out their Google Play Store with expanded content and it will be interesting to find out if Google Fiber subscribers will receive discounted or free content downloads as part of the service. There is still much that is unknown related to the full content offering that subscribers will have available. For more information on content go here: fiber.google.com
Future: My Roanoke neighborhood was the first to qualify as a Fiberhood and I think the long-term benefits of this disruptive technology will be significant. I can’t wait for my install!