Google Fiber Drops 'Basic’ Internet Option in K.C.

Google Fiber has quietly dropped a “Basic” Internet service in its first markets – Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan. – that delivered 5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up to customers who agreed to pay a “construction” fee up front, but is pushing ahead with plans to offer free gigabit service to public housing connected to its network. 

In Kansas City, Google Fiber still offers its 1-Gig standalone broadband service for $70 per month as well as a 1-Gig/TV combo starting at $130 per month (it’s currently waiving a $100 installation fee to customers who commit for a year), and now complements those with a “Fiber 100” offering that delivers symmetrical speeds of up 100 Mbps for $50 per month, via its same fiber-to-the-premises platform. All of Google Fiber’s broadband service plans remain cap-free. Although Google Fiber is dropping the free option for new customers in Kansas City, existing customers on that plan will reportedly be able to keep it. 

Google Fiber reasons that the Basic product has been criticized for not meeting the needs of consumers it was meant for, and that a new product that delivers free gigabit broadband service to all public housing properties that are connected to it network is a better approach to reach people who aren’t online today. That free option for qualified properties, Google Fiber confirmed, will be starting in Kansas City on May 19. Google Fiber announced that initiative in February, noting then that it was moving ahead to connect up to nine properties that serve more than 1,300 families in the area via the program.

Additionally, Google Fiber said it also believes that the launch of the new Fiber 100 service will provide a less expensive option for customers who may not be quite ready for 1-Gig.

In the meantime, Google Fiber is still promoting the free Basic service in markets such as Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah.  However, Basic is also not among the options in Atlanta, where Google Fiber is building its network,  but, early on, is using existing fiber infrastructure to reach select apartment buildings in the city.

Google Fiber, which recently introduced a landline phone service, has also committed to deploy in Salt Lake City; San Antonio; Nashville, Tenn.; and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. It’s considering expansions in Chicago; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles, San Jose, Irvine and San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix; Oklahoma City; Louisville, Ky.; and Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.