TWC Kansas City: We're Ready For Google Fiber

Google this week said it has strung more than 100 miles of fiber in Kansas City -- gearing up to launch an ultra-fast 1 Gigabit per second Internet and possibly a TV service -- while Time Warner Cable says it's ready for the competition, having completed its upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 in the area.

In a blog post, Google Fiber community manager Rachel Hack said the company has hung more than 100 miles of fiber on utility poles throughout Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo. The Internet giant has contracted with Braselton, Ga.-based Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG) for the initial fiber deployment.

Currently, the company is focused on installing fiber and building "Google Fiber Huts." Those "huts" are aggregation nodes to provide every home with Google Fiber service its own fiber-optic cable that "directly connects all the way back to the Internet backbone," according to project manager John Toccalino.

Google hasn't announced exactly when or where it will first offer the fiber-optic service, nor has it disclosed pricing. The company has obtained TV franchises in the area, leading to speculation that it also will launch a subscription TV service running over the Google Fiber network.

Ahead of Google's launch, Time Warner Cable has completed the deployment of DOCSIS 3.0 across its Kansas City footprint, now offering speeds up to 50 Mbps. The MSO's Ultimate Internet service (50 Mbps down and 5 up) costs $99.95 per month as a standalone service.

"Time Warner Cable's 900 Kansas City employees offer a generation of experience and an enduring investment in the community we love," TWC senior director of communications Marci Pelzer said in a statement. "We remain wholly focused on creating the best possible experience for our customers as our network is built, tested and ready to go."

Of course, TWC's fastest broadband tier is only a fraction of the bandwidth Google Fiber is promising on the downstream side, and even less compared with the Internet company's 1-Gbps upload speed target. But for individual Internet applications today including video streaming, 50 Mbps is considerably more than enough; the Google Fiber advantage would come into play if multiple users (or applications) in a household used large amounts of bandwidth simultaneously.

Last year Google said it would start the signup process for customers in Kansas City, Kan., in the fourth quarter of 2011. Since then, the company has decided to delay that process until the fiber buildout was closer to launch.

Google in February 2010 kicked off the "Think Big With a Gig" contest, offering to build a 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-home network somewhere in the U.S. to create a test bed for showcasing next-generation Internet applications and push for government policies to facilitate super-fast broadband rollouts.