Giddy for Google Fiber

Grayson SImmons

An announcement Tuesday morning from Google made it official: Austin is getting Google Fiber. We’re now set to be the second Google Fiber-endowed city after Kansas City adopted the service just last year. This is a big step for Austin, a fast-growing technology hotspot. If you are lucky enough to be in one of Google’s “fiberhoods,” this is a good day.

Google Fiber is going to offer three different service options. For a one-time installation fee of $300, customers will have access to a free internet connection capped at 5 megabytes per second (Mbps). Considering that this is faster than the Time Warner Cable’s “basic” option in Austin — 3 Mbps — this is a pretty great deal. However, for those of us who are cripplingly dependent on the Internet, there will also be offered a gigabit connection that is, according to Google, 100 times faster than average broadband speeds. Finally, there will be an option that includes the gigabit internet coupled with Google Fiber TV, which, among other things, has a reported 200 HD channels. Sound too good to be true? Well, it is true.

It may seem like Google is trying to take over the world here, and although some of us would be willing to offer it up on a silver platter, that’s not the case. Google is just trying to stimulate innovation. It’s common knowledge that there are a few cable companies that monopolize the TV and internet market. I mean, let’s be honest — from how many different companies can you get internet service within the Austin city limits? I can think of three off the top of my head, and their prices and services seem a little too similar.

Without naming names, these corporations benefit from little to no competition. Because of the relatively high barriers to entry in such a market, there are no new companies that have the capital to encroach on internet and TV property. To these current cable giants, it’s just good business to charge exorbitant prices and stifle bandwidth. It’s all on the road to making profit. And while these companies kick back and count their money, it’s the consumers — you and me  — who are left with empty pockets.

These corporations have the capability to provide better services, but they’re not willing to do so. That is where Google comes into play. By offering a high-quality alternative to the current cable services, these oligopolistic companies cannot afford to allow their services to languish. The other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a choice: They either boost internet speeds and offer better pricing, something that they have always been capable of doing, or Google will steal their market share. This is a perfect example of competition benefiting the consumer.

All these things considered, Google isn’t just doing this as some sort of random act of kindness. Remember that Google is mainly about one thing: Google. The money that they generate from their search engine and its spinoffs is what they are ultimately after. By easing these incredible internet speeds into America and stimulating competition, they are getting what they want. Sure, Google Fiber will provide awesome bandwidth, but other companies will most likely follow suit. And here is the tricky part: Google is counting on that likelihood. They want the other ISPs to offer faster service and better prices. These things culminate in more people having more internet, which means more people to use Google and its various services. That’s how they are going to get their money out of this.

Personally, faster internet and lower prices sound pretty good, and Google seems to be one of the more benevolent corporations out there. At least they are showing a knack for adaptability and an eye for the future. I think it’s safe to say that Google Fiber is a good thing. It stimulates innovation and allows for better competition. Austin is lucky to have it.

Simmons is an aerospace engineering senior from Austin.