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Google Fiber Hasn't Gone Away, Just Slow to Grow

Oh, the predictions were so exciting. Download whole movies faster than you can blink. Upload entire photo albums in seconds. Talk to your friends while surfing the ‘Net and watching TV without any sort of lag. And since Google was making these promises, at least in select cities, we all knew that it wouldn’t be very long until we were all enjoying fiber-optic goodness from coast to coast. Well, the Google Fiber initiative didn’t quite work out that way–or more accurately, it hasn’t quite yet.

In 2010, Google announced plans to start offering faster-than-fast data service to U.S. communities, and was searching for the right city to launch the massive project. After fierce lobbying from more than 1,000 cities, it finally picked Kansas City to kick off the effort in early 2012.

PC World said the promised broadband network would offer 1 Gb per second speeds, which is at least 100 times faster than traditional home broadband service. The high speed would allow faster connection, rapid download speeds for large files, and more multi-tasking. Google boasted that homeowners will be able to record eight programs at once with their DVR and download a high-def movie in 7 seconds.

If that wasn’t exciting enough for Kansas Citians, Fortune reported that Google offered even more incentives like waiving a hefty activation fee, a Nexus 7 tablet that can be used as a remote, and a free terabyte of Google Drive storage. All this for a very reasonable price of $70/month for data and another $50 for high-def TV. More than 20,000 people signed up in the first few months.

Since then, the company has slowly been hooking up other communities. Austin, Texas was announced in April 2013, with a goal of beginning the connections by mid-2014, followed by Provo, Utah, according to Googleblog. It also continues to build out smaller cities in the Kansas City metro area.

So provided you don’t live in any of these cities, when can you expect it at your house?

The only answer you’ll hear is “soon.” Before Google starts hooking up a new town, it requires approval from city leaders, plus a physical connection to every customer– not just a general wi-fi signal that can blanket a region. It also helps if there’s an existing broadband provider in a community it can piggyback upon.

According to Forbes, analysts are predicting that at the rate Google Fiber is going, it will be able to hook up 8 million homes in the next 7 to 9 years, still only a small percentage of the 313 million U.S. residents. In the meantime, for those who want high-speed downloads now and don’t want to wait for Google to get there, there may be some hope. Verizon has been rolling out its own nationwide fiber optic project: FiOS, which includes high-speed downloads and uploads, digital voice service and FiOS TV.

As of fall 2013, Verizon FiOS service is available in larger communities in 16 states, including New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Each one offers similar services, such as Verizon FiOS in Tampa, Florida, where residents enjoy download speeds up to 500 Mbps and upload speeds of 100 Mbps.

Vanessa graduated from UCLA, spent a dozen years in Internet marketing and now runs a social media consulting business out of her home. She has three boys, two dogs, one husband and no spare time on her hands.

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