Google Fiber Review – 2020

Google Fiber is the sixth-largest residential fiber internet provider in the United States in terms of the population of its potential customer base. The company doesn’t cover any rural areas. Instead, it focuses its activities on 18 urban centers. The company started operations in 2010 as a division of Google. When Google reorganized its corporate structure in 2015, Google Fiber was moved into the Alphabet Inc. holding company as part of its Access division.
Rating:
4.5/5

Overview of Google Fiber Internet Services

The Google Fiber internet service gets its name from its transmission medium: fiber optic cable. Fiber optic provides very fast internet and is a lot faster than DSL, which runs over telephone wires and cable, which uses coaxial cable.

A big problem with fiber optics is that it is very expensive. Laying physical cable and making it accessible for maintenance presents another problem. Consequently, a lot of internet companies that run fiber optic networks need very deep pockets and a lot of them have run into financial difficulties. Google itself stopped expanding its network in 2016 and actually pulled out of Boston, Massachusetts in 2018 and Louisville, Kentucky in 2019 because of the cost and complexities of maintaining its cables there.

As a result of its recent troubles and the withdrawal from Louisville, many in the industry doubt the company’s commitment to keeping Google Fiber running. However, for the time being, Google Fiber offers a speedy network and some attractive extras, such as a telephone service bundled in as an optional extra to the internet system.

Table of Contents

Pros of Google Fiber

  • Very fast internet service
  • Upload capacity equal to download capacity
  • Cheaper 100 Mbps plan available in some areas
  • No data caps
  • No speed throttling
  • Internet and TV bundle available

Cons of Google Fiber

  • Only available in a small number of cities
  • Not available citywide

Some Points About Google Fiber

Google Fiber is a little coy about letting anyone see the prices or service conditions of its system until the applicant has already signed up for the service. The company aims to provide one internet plan but in some cities, it also has a cheaper 100 Mbps plan.

Google Fiber is available in the following cities:

  • Atlanta, GA
  • Austin, TX
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Chicago, IL
  • Denver, CO
  • Huntsville, AL
  • Kansas City, MO
  • Miami, FL
  • Nashville, TN
  • Oakland, CA
  • Orange County, CA
  • Provo, UT
  • San Antonio, TX
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Salt Lake City, UT
  • Seattle, WA
  • The Triangle, NC (Raleigh – Durham)

 

Google Fiber offers free internet service in some communities. However, this service was only ever available in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo. The Kansas City free service has now been withdrawn but those who had already take out the service before it was scrapped continue to receive it. The service is called the Basic plan, which offers connections at 5 Mbps. As it is free, there is no contract involved or an early termination fee.

A standard Google Fiber service includes many free features that other internet providers would charge for. Both self-installation and technician installation is free. Although anyone would expect that a self-install shouldn’t cost anything (you can’t be charged for your own work) some internet providers charge a “shipping and handling fee” to mail the modem to you. Google mails the equipment out for free and also gives the option for new customers to pick up the modem in person at a nearby Fiber Space store. Google Fiber doesn’t charge any equipment rental and its modem includes a home WiFi router.

Although installation is free if Google is already in your apartment building or street, the company has been known to impose a $300 Construction Fee on some new customers who need to get a cable run to the door in order to participate in the network. Whether or not a fee is to be imposed isn’t revealed until the end of the signup process.

When you take out the Google Fiber service, you have to create an account, which implies a contract and you have to agree to the terms of use. However, this does not involve a minimum service agreement and there are no early termination fees. So, essentially, Google Fiber is a “no contract” service.

Google Fiber Plans

Google Fiber has only three plans for residential users. As explained above, the free Basic plan is only available in some public housing in Austin, TX, and Provo, UT.

 

Plan Download Speed Upload Speed Contract Data Cap
Basic 5 Mbps N/A None None
Fiber 100 100 Mbps 100 Mbps None None
Fiber 1000 1 Gbps 1 Gbps None None

Not all of these speeds will be available in all areas. Even within cities where the Google Fiber service is in operation, not all streets have the service. If Google Fiber has plans to install new cable in an area once it has discovered sufficient interest, the company will gather the email addresses of those enquirers on a “coming soon” basis. It will notify those households when a decision has been made to connect that area. An area that has Google Fiber service availability is called a “fiberhood.”

All Google Fiber accounts also get 1 Terabyte (TB) of Cloud storage space for free on Google Drive.

Google Fiber also offers three plans for businesses. These are:

  • Fiber Business 100 – $70 per month
  • Fiber Business 250 – $100 per month
  • Fiber Business 1000 – $250 per month

 

The speed offered by each of these business plans is denoted by the number in the name, which represents Mbps.

Google Fiber Pricing Overview

The table below shows Google Fiber’s internet service plans and their prices as of January 2020.

 

Plan Price per Month Setup Cost Account Activation Equipment Cost/Month
Basic $0 $0 $0 $0
Fiber 100 $50 $0 $0 $0
Fiber 1000 $70 $0 $0 $0

All prices are all subject to tax. Google Fiber also offers a telephone add-on service, called Fiber Phone for $10 per month. The telephone service includes the price of all calls, except for international calls. The Fiber Phone service can also be forwarded for free to mobile devices. All calls run over the internet, which is called “VoIP.” It isn’t possible to get the Fiber Phone service without the Google Fiber internet service. However, an alternative VoIP system, called Google Voice can be subscribed to no matter which internet provider you choose.

Google Fiber Customer Service

Google Fiber operates stores in most, but not all of the cities where it provides an internet service. These are called Fiber Space and they are located in:

  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Charlotte
  • Huntsville
  • Kansas City
  • Nashville
  • Orange County
  • Provo
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • Raleigh

 

These stores are open from 10 am to 7 pm Monday to Saturday. The staff at the store can assist customers with problems on their internet service, help change the account details and receive faulty equipment for repair or replacement. It is also possible to open or close an account at a Fiber Space store.

The customer support service can also be contacted through online chat at the Google Fiber website. There is also an email address for customer support and a telephone helpline.

Choosing Google Fiber Plans

Google Fiber also carries TV, although it isn’t possible to sign up for that service without having the internet service from the company. The TV plans are offered in three structures. The first is a subscription to YouTube TV, which is also owned by Google. This costs $49.99 per month in addition to the subscription fee of the Google Fiber internet service. YouTube TV costs $49.99 per month even without a Google Fiber subscription, so this deal doesn’t represent any saving over taking out the two services separately.

Another option is to take out a subscription with HBO Now for streaming to your computer. This is charged at $14.99. Again, this is the same price that you would pay if you just took up the service direct with HBO.

The third option is more complicated because it is a full cable TV package. As with all cable TV systems, there are lots of different channel packages available, which changes the price considerably. The Standard package includes 150 channels and costs $105. There are then a number of add-ons, such as Sport, Movies, and Family TV, which cost $10 per month each and then premium channels, which cost $45 per month as a bundle. If you take out all of the extras, you can get them as a bundle for $70 per month. So, taking out the full TV service would cost $175 extra per month. The price of these bundles includes one set top box. Each additional box costs $10 per month. Even with the standard package, you would end up paying considerably more for the TV than for the internet.

Google has a great marketing brand, but there is a lot of skepticism about the sustainability of Google fiber. Google has been known to drop its new services once the company realizes that it isn’t going to be able to win in that particular market. Google Fiber could end up being another of Google’s failed experiments.