For those of used to downloading apps in seconds or streaming video, it’s hard to imagine going back to the days of dial-up. But according to the FCC, nearly 19 million Americans currently lack access to broadband, meaning those people have access only to dial-up — or nothing at all.
Enter the FCC’s “Connect America Fund,” which announced last week that they will bring highspeed to nearly 400,000 residents within the next three years. This is part of a larger initiative to bring broadband to 7 million Americans in the next six years, an aggressive target set by the Obama administration as part of its commitment to universal broadband service.
The Connect America Fund is essentially a revamped version of something called the Universal Service Fund, which was tasked with bringing affordable nationwide telephone service to rural and high-cost areas. The USF will be phased out by 2018, as the FCC concentrates resources on broadband access through Connect America.
Given that more and more of purchasing, both of goods (Amazon) and services (Netflix) is moving online, broadband access has the potential to deliver new customers to thousands of businesses. And it also opens up the innovation economy, both in terms of education and entrepreneurship, to people previously excluded from our evolution to a connected, digital society.
Google Fiber TV has finally launched, and sure, it’s only in Kansas City for now. But don’t expect that to last: Google is coming for your cable provider.
At its most basic, the premise is simple: TV and Internet access from the same provider. It’s the same idea cable companies have been using for years, except the provider here is Google, and they’re promising insanely fast Internet speeds. Specifically, 1000 Mb per second, or 100 times faster than today’s average broadband, with no cap in the amount of data subscribers can use.
Google as an ISP seems like a logical leap. But what does a Google as a TV intermediary look like? Right now, Kansas City residents will receive an HD-compatible set-top box capable of receiving 160 channels (though no ESPN, HBO or Time Warner channels). As part of the monthly TV package, users will also receive a two terabyte drive capable of recording up to 500 hours of HD content, plus a bonus Nexus 7 tablet to serve as a remote.
The complete package (fiber + TV) will run KS residents $120 a month, while Internet-only service will be $70. That may be more than a typical Comcast, Time Warner or even Verizon ViOS bill, but for unlimited streaming and the opportunity to escape the entrenched cable providers, we’ll be surprised if there aren’t a lot of KS residents who think it’s worth it.