Google Fiber problems become more evident
The Kansas City Star
With two weeks to go to register for Google Fiber service, some questions about the well-publicized initiative are crystallizing with more Kansas Citians.
Yes, the digital divide that people thought was out there really exists: People in low-income neighborhoods in Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., aren’t signing up for faster Internet service. And that’s despite aggressive publicity and the fact Google is offering a pretty low-cost version of its service to people.
Yes, Google is concerned that people pledging $10 to register for Google Fiber ultimately won’t buy it for $120 a month. That could drain Google of precious funds when it routes fiber to a neighborhood where people don’t really want it.
And remember that Google pledge to provide “free” service to several hundred public buildings? It may not come true, at least to the extent once promised, if people in neighborhoods around these buildings don’t sign up for Google Fiber.
The reality is that - as enticing as Google Fiber sounds to the affluent among us and to tech heads - not everyone wants it or thinks they need it. That’s become evident in the month after Google kicked off its venture to determine interest in the service.
Another reality is that Google could very well carry out its pledge (threat?) to install the fiber only in “fiberhoods” that have a certain number of people sign up by the Sept. 9 deadline.
If that happens, the service could very well reach tens of thousands of people - but not nearly as many as once had been hoped. And if some of the public buildings are excluded, not just now but for years into the future, that could really devalue the Google initiative in the minds of many.
Of course, Google is a private company, in this to make a buck. It may have great intentions to expand the service to, say, Johnson County’s largest cities in the future, where many more customers exist.
The trial run in Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., will give Google a good road map to follow when it offers their high-speed Internet in other cities.
If something changes dramatically between now and Sept. 9, Google may have a more positive story to tell in the end. But at least so far, the plan doesn’t appear to be working out to benefit enough residents in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City.