Google on Sunday (Sept. 9) ended the six-week preregistration period for its 1 Gigabit per second Internet service in Kansas City with at least 180 of 202 eligible neighborhoods, or 89%, ready to get connected to the next-generation fiber-to-the-home network.
Time Warner Cable and other Internet service providers in the Kansas City area stand to lose at least 21,000 customers out of the gate, which was the number of residents that had preregistered for Google Fiber as of late Friday, according to a count by GigaOm.
On Sunday night, Google pulled the running tally of different "fiberhood" registration levels from its website and did not announce how many residents in Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., ultimately paid the $10 to get in line for the FTTH service. Google has said its current franchise agreements cover about 1 million people in the Kansas City market.
"This number has blown us away -- and it's not even the final tally," Google Access general manager Kevin Lo wrote in a blog post Sunday night. The company is still processing some address-verification requests and preregistrations from apartment buildings and condos, and will announce the final list of "fiberhoods" on Thursday.
Google Fiber is challenging incumbent broadband and TV providers in Kansas City, including Time Warner Cable -- which is in the midst of boosting its workforce 9% in the market -- AT&T, SureWest Communications and, to a limited extent, Comcast.
Google's promise of 1 Gbps Internet access is more than 100 times faster than the broadband most Americans have today. In addition, Google is offering a next-generation IPTV service in Kansas City, which uses a Nexus 7 tablet as a remote control and a Google-designed DVR.
The Google Fiber service is $70 per month for broadband only with a one-year contract and $120 per month as part of a broadband/TV bundle with a two-year contract. Customers also can opt for a free -- but significantly slower -- Internet service at 5 Megabits per second if the pay the $300 construction fee.
Unlike traditional franchise agreements between municipalities and cable or telecommunications providers, Google's deals with the Kansas City communities allow it to pick and choose where it will roll out service. Between 10% and 25% of "fiberhood" residents had to preregister for service in order to make the cut for the first round of fiber-to-the-premises construction. The process may leave low-income residents without access to Google Fiber initially.
The Google Fiber TV service includes a 2-Terabyte DVR, which is enough storage for up to 500 hours of HD programming, with the ability to record up to eight shows at once. The TV service also will be available on Android and iOS devices, and will include a voice-enabled search function.
On the linear TV side, Google currently advertises a lineup of 126 live TV channels, plus an optional Hispanic programming package and movie tiers from Showtime Networks and Starz Entertainment. Not included for now are top cable networks, including HBO, Disney Channel, ESPN, Fox News Channel, TNT, TBS and AMC.
The Internet giant originally announced the Google Fiber project two years ago with a national competition that generated more than 1,100 applications from cities and towns across the U.S.
In 2010, Google said "Think Big With a Gig" was an "experiment" to show what applications are possible with 1 Gbps of bandwidth. But executives now say they are running the fiber-to-the-home network as a business and expect to operate Google Fiber profitably.