Four years after introducing Kansas City to Google Fiber, the broadband alternative meant to provoke competitive pricing and Internet speeds across the U.S., Google is putting an end to the current model of free Internet access.
Previously, those who wanted Internet access could pay a one-time $300 installation fee and then go on to use it for free. The only real downside to this model was the harsh limits in download and upload speeds. Consumers who opted for the one-time fee had a top download speed of 5Mb with uploads topping out at 1Mb. That model is now being scrapped in favor of a program coordinated with the Obama administration, which is intended to reach non-specified “digitally divided neighborhoods.” For those outside of those neighborhoods there’s Fiber 100, which costs $50 per month with no installation fee or contract.
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There could be several reasons for this, but Google has been known to incentivize its divisions to remain self-sustainable (this was said to be the reason Boston Dynamics is currently up for sale). It would make sense for Google to make an effort in making similar moves with Fiber — data transfers aren’t free for the companies that provide them after all. The $50-per-month price point is less than the next alternative, which has been available since the start. Thus, while the free plan is gone as a choice for everyone, a more affordable option will be available for those that are interested in Fiber but previously felt that the $70-per-month alternative was a bit steep.
Another reason could be that Google needs to compete with rival Internet providers in new ways, especially as its competitors cut rates and raise data speeds. By collaborating with the Obama administration to provide free Internet for “digitally divided neighborhoods” it allows Google to target a different type of consumer than it has before.
Correspondence sent to current Kansas City subscribers said those who want to may keep the free option until May 19. Aside from the new $50 plan and the old $70 plan, there’s also a $130-per-month option that includes TV service.