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article imageGoogle ending free Fiber Internet in Kansas City

By James Walker     Apr 11, 2016 in Technology
Google is going to discontinue its free Internet service in Kansas City. Since the launch of Google Fiber, residents have been able to pay a one-time construction fee and then receive unlimited Internet access for free, a deal Google has decided to end.
Google launched its superfast Fiber Internet service in Kansas City. The free plan has been in existence for as long as Fiber itself, letting customers pay nothing at all to access the Internet for as long as seven years. After a $300 one-time installation fee, residents can use the web without paying as much as a cent.
Speeds are severely limited compared to the capabilities of the Fiber network but then it's hard to ask for more on a free plan. Google offers 5Mbps downloads and 1Mbps uploads, speeds that still shame many connections around the world.
Google is now phasing out the free plan though, preventing new would-be subscribers from signing-up. The company confirmed to Re/code that it is dropping Free Fiber, replacing it with a $50 per month plan offering 100Mbps speeds.
Google will honour all existing contracts for the free service. It will continue accepting new customers until May 19, the company told Ars Technica. Free Internet is also available in Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. Google is continuing to offer the service in those cities for now.
Google is expanding a program in Kansas City that will see poor people in disadvantaged areas given gigabit-speed connections for free. In partnership with the government's aim of bringing digitally divided nations online, Fiber delivered in this way will be completely free with no installation fee or monthly contract. It will only be available in affordable houses to residents who would otherwise be unable to obtain Internet access.
"The U.S. has some of the most expensive broadband in the world, while lagging far behind other countries in Internet speeds," said Google earlier this year. "And for families in affordable housing, cost can be one of the biggest barriers to getting online. Alongside our ConnectHome partners, we’re proud to make some of the fastest Internet more available and accessible to those who need it most."
It remains unclear why Google has decided to end free Fiber for all residents of Kansas City. The company declined to comment to Re/code, confirming the price changes but refusing to reveal reasoning for the move.
Google may be reforming Fiber into a more profitable broadband business. Giving away Internet for free isn't going to help parent company Alphabet's revenue and Fiber is already its most costly business. The unit is thought to be spending as much as $2 billion each year.
Alternatively, the change could be a representation of the changing needs of Internet customers. Whereas 5Mbps downloads would have been acceptable only a few years ago, today's Internet is more bandwidth-heavy. Google may have decided it's not worth continuing to offer an increasingly limited service, frustrating users with slow transfer speeds.
More about Google, Google Fiber, Internet, Network, Broadband
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