This week, Google announced their plans for Google Fiber, an internet and TV service to residences in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. What makes this service really special is it’s speed and pricing.
In the United States, we are used to having very, very slow data speeds. In fact, within the people I know, I have the fastest internet thanks to FiOS (15mbps up/ 5mbps down). Most people in NYC do not have anything close to that. Optimum Online and Verizon DSL offers much slower speeds. In my experience with Verizon DSL, I was getting slower speeds than AT&T’s 3G, which is usually around 1mbps up and point-something down. Google Fiber is providing 1000mbps up and down for $70 a month. You can compare that to what FiOS is charging me which is about $84 a month for much lower speeds. To compare the speed difference, Google has provided some examples. On Google Fiber’s 1000mbps, you can download an HD movie in 7 seconds, compared to a 5mbps connection which will take 21 minutes and 52 seconds to download. Which is the same as walking from Times Square to the Golden Gate Bridge, which would take you 9 hours with Google Fiber (100 times faster than a normal person) and 39 days with 5mbps (normal walking speed), or from New York City to the Moon, which will only take 18 days 2 hours compared to 1809 days 12 hours, just incase you were wondering.
As far as the TV package goes, you can get the standard 1000mbps up/down internet with TV for $120/month. The channels that are listed right now are your standard HDTV channels, but some noticeable channels are missing. HBO, Time Warner and Disney channels are missing, which include ESPN. Google does make it clear, however, that these listings are only a representative lineup and the real list would be available to customers once they register for the service. In addition, they state that they are working on providing more channels in the future. Personally, I’m not too worried about this since they are brand new to this industry, look how long it took Apple to get the major content providers on board for iTunes, I think in time Google will have all the channels we need.
If you weren’t getting enough for your $120, Google provides even more. They provide a network box, a storage box (a DVR which can record 8 shows at once and holds 500 hours of HD content), a TV box which basically extends the range of your wifi signal, 1TB of free storage in Google Drive and a Nexus 7 tablet as your remote control. You get a TABLET for free as your remote control…I’ll let that sink in for a minute.
The most interesting plan is the Free Internet plan. You get 5mbps up and 1mbps down,which isn’t incredibly fast but many people in the US are currently paying for those exact, or even slower, speeds. This free plan is promised for at least 7 years. The only thing you must pay is the $300 construction fee, which all Google Fiber customers have to pay (unless they sign up right now or sign a 2 year contract) but that works out to $25/month for a year. Even at $25 a month for 12 months, that’s a bargain compared to the other internet providers out there.
If you live in KC, you must sign up by September 9th by paying a $10 pre-register fee. If your “fiberhood”, which is an area set up by Google, reaches it’s goal, meaning that enough people pre-registered, you will receive Google Fiber. If you pre-register but enough of your neighbors did not and Google does not install Google Fiber in your neighborhood, you receive your $10 fee back.
So what’s Google’s deal? I mean, these prices are really low and clearly everyone who can get these speeds will sign up for it. Instead of just rolling it out to these cities, Google is basically turning normal humans into marketing machines. People are going door-to-door and posting flyers to beg their neighbors to pre-register to get this new service (which is something I would do as well) and it seems that everyone who can register is. This new service is clearly being beta tested by the people in KC, so Google can learn more about becoming an ISP and to see if they have what it takes. So what if Google does have what it takes? Will they become a nation wide ISP? Or are they instead trying to set an example?
Some people believe that Google is doing this to set an example to the other ISPs in the US and to the FCC. They may be trying to catch the bluff of these other ISPs who have said that providing cap-less, faster internet in the US is impossible. Google might be using itself as an example to force other ISPs to step their game up in providing faster data speeds to the US. Slow data is Google’s biggest enemy since customers can’t use Google services (Drive, Chrome, Talk, etc) if they have a horribly slow internet connection.
Personally, I would love for Google to expand. The only way to get fast internet in NY is to get FiOS, which still isn’t available to the entire state and is quite expensive, especially when compared to Google Fiber. Verizon FiOS is currently charging $200 a month just for 100mbps internet.
Either way, everyone should have their eye on Google Fiber right now. If it works the way Google wants and Google has plans to expand, we can finally start seeing some innovation in terms of internet speeds and what we can do on the internet. 15 years ago, back when we were all using 56K dial-up internet, streaming music from a service like Spotify would have been impossible. Downloading software the way we do today would be impossible. iTunes and Netflix would not have been created if we still had internet speeds the way we did back then. In America, we desperately need a change in internet speed. 1000mbps or higher speed can create so many new, interesting and life changing aspects to our internet lives because it would allow us to do so much more with our computers, phones and tablets. No one knows what types of things are possible but are being pushed back due to our data speed limitation. All we need is for someone to come along and push innovation and I think Google, with it’s fiber service, will be able to do that.
Who knows? If internet speeds increase, maybe we’ll be able to walk to the moon in 18 days.
This week, I discovered a new up and coming technology company called Lytro where they are working on a light field capture camera which will change the future of photography. Everyone in the tech world seems pretty excited about this, investors have already raised 50 million dollars into the company and the product hasn’t even launched yet.
To understand why this will change photography, you first have to think about how photography is done today. When taking a picture, you have to set where you want the focus and wait for the camera to autofocus, which can take some time depending on the amount of light in the room and how far the object you are focusing on is. With this light field camera, you just take the picture and set the focus later. Light Field capture records all the light rays in the scene, from every angle, and puts it in the photo file. Compare this to normal cameras which takes all the light rays, adds it up to a single light ray which gets recorded in the file. With normal photo files, the focus is already set and you cannot change it later. With these Light Field cameras and this new “living pictures” file, waiting for the autofocus is a thing of the past. You can also take one image and create multiple images from that one picture, each with a different focus.
Today on Buzz Out Loud, the founder and CEO, Ren Ng, did a small interview and answered some questions about the camera.
We have no knowledge of how the cameras look but they are in existence, just locked away to avoid internet leaks. The cameras are of consumer form-factor, meaning they won’t be big and clunky, and they are consumer priced. When asked about specific price points, Ren Ng said they will be “competitively priced”. These cameras will launch this year.
What’s interesting is that the light field technology can be used with any camera that has a lens, which means that video cameras and cellphone cameras could have this technology built-in.
Files: The files will be a bit larger than the normal JPEG. Ren Ng said the file size depends on the amount of compression. I’m guessing they will be more similar to TIFF file sizes rather than JPEG size. These files will be proprietary, meaning they will only work with specific software, to set the focus, of course, but they will be able to export to JPEG files where anyone will be able to view them.
Software: You will need a certain type of software, built by Lytro, to pick the focus and export to other more common file types but you will not need any type of special software to view these images. Basically saying that the photographer using this camera will need special software to import the files into their computer but they can send the pictures to grandma and she won’t need the software.
Speed: These cameras are instant on with no delay. “You just click it” said the CEO.
Long Exposures: Don’t worry, pro photographers, all the things you can do with a traditional camera, like adjusting shutter speed, can be done with this camera.
Video: I said this before but I wanted to make sure this was clear: VIDEO IS POSSIBLE with this type of technology.
I strongly suggest you check out lytro.com to read more about this technology and the people behind this company. You can also play around with some of the “living pictures” and see the type of stuff you will be able to do with these types of cameras. You can also reserve a camera, though no one knows how long it will take to actually receive one since they have received many requests.