Google prepares high-speed Internet service in Kansas City

The Google logo.
(Virginia Mayo / Associated Press)

Kansas City is about to get some ultra-fast Internet.

Google rolling out its much-anticipated “gigabit” Internet service Google Fiber, which the company says will enable users to download, upload and stream 100 times faster than normal.

The Internet search giant has been laying a network of fiber cables throughout the region for the last several months. Google chose the Kansas City region of Missouri and Kansas to showcase the project, which will also include a cable TV package.

In a webcast demonstration, the company said a Google Fiber user could upload 100 photos to a social network such as Google Plus in the time it takes a regular Internet user to put up a single image.

“We will make Kansas City a place where bandwidth flows like water,” said Milo Medin, vice president of access services at Google.

Ron Josey, an analyst at ThinkEquity, said the company has long been frustrated by Web speeds offered by other providers. A faster online infrastructure would let Google create more products.

“This is their way of showing, if we offer a better pipeline, look at what we can do on the Web in terms of innovation,” Josey said.

Google has always been about speed and efficiency and wants others to get onboard, said Sameet Sinha, an analyst at B. Riley & Co.

“They want to get the government to notice that higher broadband should be a strategic priority,” he said. “Second, it could force cable companies to start offering higher-speed Internet.”

Google’s business would benefit from a faster Web, as it would encourage people to use more of Google’s products, such as YouTube and its videoconferencing service Google Hangouts, Sinha said.

Other communities have super-fast fiber optic Internet, but Google’s TV offering will probably lead to more consumers buying the product, analysts said.

Google will offer Kansas City residents its Internet package for $70 a month. With the addition of the TV package, which will include all major networks and more than 100 cable channels, the cost will go to $120 a month.

Consumers who sign up for the top-tier Internet and TV package will get a TV box, a digital video recorder that can record eight shows at once. They will also get a router and a Nexus 7 tablet that will act as the system’s remote control.

But Josey said Google is not looking to become a cable company; it’s using the product to give consumers a compelling reason to use its fiber network.

Google will spend the next six weeks drumming up interest in the service around the region. The neighborhoods, which Google calls “Fiberhoods,” that show the most interest by registering for the service online will be the first to get the product.

“The [tech] developers I’ve talked to, they’re ecstatic about this,” said Ryan Weber, president of KCnext, a nonprofit that advocates for the Kansas City region’s technology sector. “We’ve gone months waiting to see what this product was going to look like, so there’s been a lot of eagerness in the community.”