Google Fiber Expanding Superfast Internet Service to Olathe, Kansas

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Andrew Kelly / Reuters

Google's logo is seen at the company's New York City office.

Olathe, Kansas, a city of 125,000 residents located about 20 miles southwest of Kansas City, will be the next municipality to receive Google Fiber, the tech giant’s highly touted superfast Internet service, the company announced Tuesday night. The announcement came minutes after the Olathe city council voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Google.

Although the Olathe expansion is a relatively modest step for Google, it is significant for two reasons. First, Olathe will become the largest city outside of Kansas City to receive Google Fiber. Second, the move could foreshadow further Google Fiber expansions in Kansas and beyond.

“We are excited to work in partnership with Google to bring this next-generation fiber optic system to Olathe homes, schools and businesses,” Olathe Mayor Michael Copeland said in a statement.

Google says its fiber-to-the-home product provides customers with broadband Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second — roughly 100 times faster than the average U.S. connection — as well as crystal clear television service. Last fall, after years of preparation, Google began rolling out the service in the Kansas City metro area, which includes Kansas City, Missouri, and the smaller Kansas City, Kansas.

(MOREGoogle Brings Free Public WiFi to Its New York City Neighborhood)

In Kansas City, Google offers three tiers of service. The baseline fiber installation fee is $300, or $25 per month for 12 months. After paying that amount, Kansas City residents are guaranteed seven years of free broadband Internet service at current national “average” speeds. The second tier costs $70 per month for the super-fast Internet service, and the top tier, which includes Google’s TV service, costs $120 per month. The $300 installation fee is waived for the top two tiers.

According to the agreement approved Tuesday, Google could also potentially roll out Wi-Fi service for Olathe residents. “Olathe residents have embraced innovation and technology like few others,” said Mayor Copeland. “Our vibrant community spirit is truly second to none and I’m pleased Google recognized this in choosing Olathe as the largest Johnson County city in which to invest thus far.”

Google Fiber’s expansion into Olathe sets up the tech giant to compete with Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, which is one of the the city’s largest broadband providers. For years, industry observers have speculated that Google could eventually get into the business of providing broadband service. In January, Google announced plans to provide free Wi-Fi in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The search giant also offers free WiFi in its home city of Mountain View, Calif.

Many observers believe that Google’s ultimate goal is to shame the legacy broadband giants like Comcast and Time Warner Cable (which was spun off from TIME parent company Time Warner in 2009), by demonstrating that vastly faster broadband service is possible in the United States. Improving U.S. broadband speed and penetration is important for Google, because the more people who use broadband Internet, at faster speeds, the more Google searches get executed, and the more money Google makes.

(MOREGoogle Fiber Issues Public Challenge: Get Up To Speed!)

The company said Tuesday that it hopes to roll out Google Fiber in other Kansas cities soon. In January, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield predicted that Google would roll out its service to a second major market this year. Olathe doesn’t qualify as a major market, but it is an incremental move forward. “This is a small step on that path,” Greenfield told TIME by email. “We believe this is just the beginning.”

Google Fiber community manager Rachel Hack observed that Olathe has become one of the fastest-growing cities in Kansas, and has attracted an influx of new businesses and residents. “They’ve all noticed what a great community Olathe is, and so have we,” Hack wrote. “We think that Fiber and widespread Internet access will help to create jobs, grow local businesses, and make Olathe even stronger as it grows.”

Since Google launched the Kansas City fiber rollout, the company has been touting what it calls the emergence of “Silicon Prairie.” The company points to initiatives such as Kansas City Startup Village, an entrepreneur-led project with the ambitious goal “to help solidify Kansas City as a premiere startup city in America.”

“Tonight’s announcement is about our future and the endless possibilities for Olathe students, businesses, and entrepreneurs who will no doubt leverage this technology and connectivity to achieve things that are truly innovative and transformational,” said Mayor Copeland.

11 comments
Seppo
Seppo

We've been using Google Fiber in the Kansas City Startup Village (http://kcsv.org) since November, and we can confidently say it's worth every penny.  Our house (4454 KCSV) has four startups operating out of it with 10+ entrepreneurs constantly using the Internet for business purposes.  Not once has Google Fiber let us down (and no, they don't pay me to say that).  :)  The speeds are ridiculous.  In fact, we struggle to use all the bandwidth.  Check out our Fiber Fridays sessions: http://www.kcstartupvillage.org/blog/category/fiber-fridays/

JDinKC
JDinKC

Glad to see that Olathe is not once again playing second fiddle to Overland Park.

brasshat
brasshat

This explains the recent nationwide (seeing it in California, anyway) xfinity ad campaign that they're raising speeds on their top-price-tier plans. Still nowhere near GFiber speeds, obviously.

Correction on the photo caption: "The Google signage is seen at the company's headquarters in New York..." Google's headquarters are in Mountain View, CA. They have a large office in NYC.

HypeDaviceVersa
HypeDaviceVersa

i live here in Memphis, TN. Guess i should be glad we have 3 primary service providers: comcast, att uverse, and direct tv. Comcast's prices are super overinflated for the crappy service they provide, att uverse subpar, and direct tv is unstable in rainy weather. GOOGLE, please please please expand into Memphis! IDC if you just expand into one of our suburbs starting off. I really like your products and your service here in memphis will be a welcomed breath of fresh air!

AliJones
AliJones

Yes very disappointed that they are skipping everything in between KCK and Olathe. Here in Prairie Village we can't even get SureWest and Time Warner is terrible. We were getting slower than dial up speed and no one could fix it...

koven.carlson
koven.carlson

Isn't there a problem with distributing digital 4k content with today's infrastructural? Fiber has that handled.

ArtFaucett
ArtFaucett

Makes no sense. They could have done O.P, which borders KCKS and gone south.Bummed out because Time Warner has been screwing us on their crappy routing. The only thing fast about Time Warner is the speed test on their site.If you are a gamer and want low pings with direct routing, run fast away and get Surewest if you can.

Seppo
Seppo

@HypeDaviceVersaActually, rather than wishing for Google Fiber you might contact Chattanooga and request they expand their smart grid to Memphis.  They have some awesome stuff going on there.  Check out http://www.thegigcity.com.

RyanKramer
RyanKramer

@ArtFaucett 

I feel for you, but as an Olathe resident who pays over $70 for just internet to Comcast, it wasn't much better here... I'm obviously thrilled at the news.

lol_d0ngs
lol_d0ngs

@RyanKramer @ArtFaucett Eh - I guess you guys like to forget a little town called Merriam that is already right next to that urban dump called KCK and already has fiber buried and run to each home. I have 50/50 from surewest for a little over $60 a month.  All it would take is a new ONT (which they are already using in Olathe with the new fiber runs anyway) at each home to get the new speeds.  If you're coming from a cable or DSL connection then yeah, it will be amazing to switch to fiber.