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Google taking orders for Kansas City gigabit fiber network

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Google is ready to flip the switch on its new gigabit residential fiber network in Kansas City – that is, provided the locals can rally enough of their neighbors to pre-register to justify wiring up the houses.

The Chocolate Factory has been hanging fiber optic cables on Kansas City utility poles since March, in a project that will eventually blanket the region with thousands of miles of high-speed network connectivity. What remains is the "last mile," meaning the connectivity to individual customers, and here Google is calling on citizens to spread the word.

"We've divided Kansas City into small communities we call 'fiberhoods,'" Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, wrote in a blog post on Thursday. "We'll install only where there's enough interest, and we'll install sooner in fiberhoods where there's more interest."

There are in fact two Kansas Cities in the US – one in Kansas, and one (the larger) in nearby Missouri. Google is offering its fiber network to both.

Milo Medin, Google's VP of access services, says network speeds in America have not kept pace with the increases in computing power and storage capacity that the tech industry has seen in recent decades.

"While high speed technology exists, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is still only 5.8 megabits per second (Mbps) – slightly faster than the maximum speed available 16 years ago when residential broadband was first introduced," Medin wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

By comparison, Google's fiber network offers 1 gigabit per second, and BitTorrent fans will be pleased to note that it will be symmetric, meaning uploads will be just as fast as downloads.

To pre-register for the service, Kansas City residents need only give their names and addresses and pay a $10 deposit fee. The pre-registration period lasts through September 9. Once they're wired up, subscribers will pay $70 per month for gigabit internet access, or $120 per month for internet access plus digital TV over the same line.

As part of the package, Google will throw in a network adapter that provides 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi at speeds of up to 360Mbps and includes a built-in stateful firewall that works with IPv4 and IPv6.

Customers who order the TV package get an additional "TV Box" that acts as a tuner and DVR, plus a Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote control. Subscribers to either package can also pick up a Chromebook for $299 with their order, if they want.

Google is also offering a free – or nearly free – internet access package under the same program. Customers who agree to pay a one-time $300 construction fee are guaranteed at least seven years of free internet access, albeit at the heavily throttled rates of 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload. Customers can pay the fee either all at once or spread over 12 months.

Sadly, Kansas City is 1,500 miles from El Reg's San Francisco branch office, so your humble hacks will not be able to enjoy the fruits of Google's labors. Our single Hayes Smartmodem that sits on a shelf in the supply closet will have to suffice. ®

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