In 2010, Alphabet Inc.'s Google (GOOG  ) announced an experiment called Google Fiber that would potentially realize Google's vision of making Internet access better and faster for everyone. By bringing internet speeds up to 100 times faster than the nation-wide standard at the time, Google Fiber would encourage the development of next-generation apps that utilize ultra-fast internet and the development of deployment techniques for fiber networks.

Kansas City
Kansas City

Google Fiber was first launched in the Kansas City metropolitan area in 2012, and has since since been spreading slowly to other cities in the United States.

There have been initiatives to encourage faster internet throughout the country. Currently, the United States lags behind many European and Asian countries in terms of internet speeds, unable to break the list of top 10 countries in the world with the fastest internet (The State of the Internet). However, Kansas City ranks amongst the fastest cities in the world. With the immense success and increasing demand of Google Fiber services, more American cities are expected to join that list.

Last year, Google partnered with ConnectHome, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the White House to accelerate Internet adoption by families with school-age children in public housing. Google announced on February 3, 2016 that it'll be bringing gigabit Internet service to residents in all public housing properties that connect with Google Fiber. Families in these properties will be able to access some of the fastest speeds, at no cost to the housing authority or to residents.

Google Fiber delivers internet service at speeds of up to 1Gbps and offers the following plans:

  • Basic Internet: 5Mbps for $0/month ($300 installation fee)
  • Gigabit Internet: 1Gbps and 1TB of Cloud Storage Space for $70/month
  • Gigabit + TV: 1Gbps + 1TB of Cloud Storage Space + over 150 channels for $130/month
  • Comcast's Xfinity (CMCSA  ), the largest home internet service provider in the US, offers the following:
  • Economy Plus: 3Mbps for $39.95/month
  • Blast! : 150Mbps for $82.95/month
  • Digital Starter & Performance Internet: 150Mbps + over 140 channels for $89.95/mo.
  • Xfinity Gigabit Pro: 2Gbps for $299.95/month
The price for the Basic Internet plan is expected to stay the same for at least seven years, meaning that in supported cities, Google Fiber will allow almost all homes to have internet access. The 1Gbps download/upload speeds promised by Google Fiber is already almost 100 times faster than the average speed of 12.6 Mbps in the United States. With Google Fiber, buffering and load times would become a thing of the past. Though Xfinity does offer an 2Gbps plan, it is much more expensive and does not include a TV service. In contrast, Google Fiber does offer more affordable and practical plans, explaining why demand for the service has been increasing.

The quality and service of Google Fiber presents a unique threat in the marketplace for internet service providers, and it has already started to worry other major providers. Comcast recently responded to Google Fiber's recent expansion into Atlanta via mailings that attempted to convince customers that it offered a better service than Google. Reddit user TheBen91made the following post mocking Comcast with the caption: "So I got this in the mail today. I think someone is scared of Fiber coming to Atlanta." The mailing is completely absent of data cap/pricing comparisons, stirring criticism from the online community (link to reddit post).

Google has also been working on Project Loon to further realize its vision of universal internet access. Project Loon aims to bring internet access to rural and remote areas via high-altitude balloons placed in the stratosphere to create aerial wireless networks. On October 2015, Google partnered with Indonesia's XL Axiata, Indosat and Telkomsel to bring the technology to the country and connect the rest of the nation's 17,000 islands. It has already been successful with launching the technology on a mass scale in Sri Lanka, which will become the second country in the world to get full coverage of internet using LTE by March 2016.

Another noteworthy figure attempting to enter the telecom market is Facebook (FB  ), which partnered with Samsung, MediaTek, Opera Software, Nokia, and Qualcomm (QCOM  ) to work on is a plan to bring affordable access to selected Internet services in developing countries. The plan is regarded as highly controversial, as critics argued that it violates net-neutrality principles. Because Facebook selects the few websites accessible via, it has been accused of just "being a Facebook proxy targeting India's poor." The future of seems uncertain at best; in fact, as of February 8, 2016 India has banned the service.

Google Fiber technology depends on the installation of thousands of miles of fiber-optic cables and thus will take time to expand as fast as the increase in demand. Google has to cooperate with cities so that it can install cables without interfering with existing infrastructures.

Google headquarters in Mountain View, California
Google headquarters in Mountain View, California

Currently, Google Fiber is available in Provo, Atlanta, Austin, and Kansas City. Expansion plans include the upcoming cities Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio. Google will continue to make efforts to expand to cities where consumers have expressed demand. Check out: