Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Making the Google Fiber mobile app better and more widely-available

My favorite thing about my job is getting to listen to, and build, what our Google Fiber users want. I work on a small team that focuses on the Google Fiber mobile app, and we’re constantly getting suggestions on how to make our app better. Today, we’re launching our app on two new platforms, plus updating the app with some new features (available for Android and iOS) that you’ve told us you want to use:

Launching the Fiber App for iPhone and iPod Touch
Now even more people can use our app. Visit the Apple App Store to download it today!

Making it easier to find your shows
Do you love and watch just a handful of channels? Now, you can use the channel history “shortcut” feature on your app to quickly reach all of your favorites. You’ll find your channel history in the navigation menu by tapping the icon in top left of the screen.

Making it easier to manage your DVR
The Google Fiber Storage Box can hold up to 500 hours of HD content. That’s great for those of you who want to record your favorite shows...but once you have 1,000 sitcoms recorded, how do you sift through it all and find the one you want to watch? Now, the Fiber app allows you to manage your DVR and find, organize and mass-delete all of your content right from your tablet or phone. To see your existing recordings, open the navigation menu and tap DVR. To quickly setup new DVR recordings, tap the search icon and type (or speak) the show title.

Do you have ideas for more features you want to use on the app? We’d love to hear them! Send your “dream features” our way via the Google Fiber help forum.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Last few fiberhood deadlines in KCK, Central KCMO

Almost one year ago, we brought Google Fiber to our first-ever customers. Now, we’re thrilled to announce the final few fiberhood deadlines for Kansas City, Kan. and Central Kansas City, Mo. If you live in one of the fiberhoods listed below, don’t miss out. Visit our website today to choose your plan.

Ivanhoe/ Boston Hts - Thursday, November 7
Country Club Plaza - Thursday, November 7
Hogan Prep Academy - Thursday, November 7
Wheatley Elementary - Thursday, November 7
Blue Hills North - Thursday, November 7
Forgotten Homes - Thursday, November 7
Rockhill Manor - Thursday, November 7
Vineyard Northwest - Thursday, November 7
Palestine/ Oak Park - Thursday, November 7
18th & Vine - Thursday, November 7
Marlborough East - Thursday, November 7
Ivanhoe Northeast - Thursday, November 7
Ivanhoe Southeast - Thursday, November 7
Blue Hills South - Thursday, November 7

Vineyard - Thursday, November 14
Vineyard Estates - Thursday, November 14
Noble/Gregory Ridge - Thursday, November 14
Palestine East - Thursday, November 14
Swope Park Campus - Thursday, November 14
Hanover Place East - Thursday, November 14
Marlborough Heights - Thursday, November 14
Oak Park Northwest - Thursday, November 14
Oak Park Southeast - Thursday, November 14
Scarritt Pt South - Thursday, November 14
Ivanhoe Southwest - Thursday, November 14
Battleflood Heights - Thursday, November 14
Walnut Grove - Thursday, November 14
Indian Mound East - Thursday, November 14
Lykins South - Thursday, November 14
South Indian Mound - Thursday, November 14
Lykins North - Thursday, November 14

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

WatchESPN and Disney on the go

It’s the 5th time your kids have asked “are we there yet?” from the back seat — but it looks like traffic isn’t going to ease up any time soon. Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could just use your phone or tablet to summon their favorite sports and TV shows, right there in your car?

Starting today Google Fiber TV customers can stream boredom away, with the WatchESPN and WATCH Disney apps.

WatchESPN provides live access to eight networks, including live events and all of ESPN’s sports and studio shows (including ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN3, ESPN Deportes, ESPNEWS, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater). You can watch at no additional cost by logging in with your Google Fiber account — visit WatchESPN.com or download the WatchESPN app from Google Play or the App Store on your Xbox 360, or on Apple TV.

WATCH Disney gives you live access to Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD networks. Just go to WatchDisneyChannels.com and log in using your Google Fiber username and password.

If you want to learn more about this feature, you can also visit us at the Fiber Space for a live demo with our team.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Some clarification for small businesses about Google Fiber

Our Fiber cities are full of small business owners — their entrepreneurial spirit is one of the main reasons why we decided to bring Fiber to KC, Austin and Provo in the first place, and we can’t wait to see what many of them can do with ultra-high speed Internet. Recently, many of these local entrepreneurs have been in touch with us to ask for some clarifications about our residential product and our future small business offering. Here’s a rundown of some of the top questions we’ve gotten:

Why don’t you have an option for small businesses?
From the beginning, Google Fiber was meant to help make the web faster for individuals and families. We’d noticed frustration from users about their home Internet speeds — nobody likes to put their lives on hold as videos buffer, photo albums upload or movies download. We chose to bring a Fiber to homes first, to help make the web there faster, and we’ll have a small business product in the future.

What kinds of locations are you connecting to Google Fiber right now?
Right now, we’re only bringing Fiber to residential locations (units and homes where people live), plus the public and nonprofit sites selected by each Fiber city through our Community Connections program.

Can home-based businesses use Google Fiber?
Yes. If you live in and work from your home (e.g. accountant, graphic designer, online tutor, talent agent for clowns), you can use Google Fiber. Just make sure you read through and comply with our terms of service.

What businesses need to wait for the Fiber small business product?
If the primary use of the location where you want to install Google Fiber is commercial (e.g. nobody lives there), we won’t be able to bring you Fiber service yet. Hang in there for when we have a small business plan!

When will you have a small business service available?
For now, we’re extremely focused on bringing Fiber to all of the residents who are already signed up and waiting for service. We will have more information about our small business product in the future. Stay tuned to this blog, or enter your address and email address on our website to get more information as soon as we have something to share.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Behind the scenes with Google Fiber: How we actually build Google Fiber

This is the second post in our “Behind the Scenes” blog series, designed to answer some frequently asked questions about how things work at Google Fiber. Today, our construction manager John Toccalino is going to explain the steps in actually building a Google Fiber network and why it takes awhile. - Ed.

Today your Internet and TV service are probably connected to your home via copper wires. This technology has been around for over 100 years, and it just wasn’t built for what we’re trying to use it for today. My job with Google Fiber is to build thousands of miles of brand new fiber-optic cable, which is far better and faster than copper at transmitting information, such as the bits that make up your favorite websites, YouTube videos, video chats, or online games. Fiber-optic cables are made of glass, and they use lasers to transmit information — close to the speed of light! It’s amazing technology, but unfortunately very few homes have direct access to fiber networks today.

That’s where my team comes in. Every day, we’re working to plan and build brand new Google Fiber networks in Kansas City and Austin. There are a few big steps.

Step 1: Figure out where we can put our fiber. We need to build thousands of miles of fiber — but we can’t just put it wherever we want. First, we use the infrastructure data that the city has shared with us to create a base map of where we can build (existing utility poles, conduit) and where we should avoid (water, sewer and electric lines). Then, a team of surveyors and engineers hits the streets to fill in any missing details.

Step 2: Design the network. There are a few basic components to our Fiber networks that we need to design from scratch for every single city. In general, you can think of it as a hub-and-spoke design:

Every mile of this network has to be planned and diagramed, which takes a huge amount of time (imagine planning a network that touches ~30 utility poles per mile, for thousands of miles). We also plan and build backup fiber routes; we want to be ready just in case there's a break in service along any section of our network (it just so happens that squirrels love to chew through fiber lines).

Step 3: Build the network. Only once we have a solid plan — including diagrams of every utility pole our fiber will travel on, detailed maps of where we’ll need to dig up streets to install new conduit, and the specs for every single hut and cabinet — can we get boots on the ground to start building our network. That’s when you’ll start to see crews out in the streets with their boom trucks, boring machines, and rolls of conduit and cables.

In other words, this is a huge undertaking, and we know you might get a bit impatient with us from time to time. We know you want your Google Fiber — please know that we’ve got our teams hard at work to get you connected just as soon as we can.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Behind the scenes with Google Fiber: Working with city governments

Today we’re introducing a “Behind the Scenes” blog series, designed to answer some frequently asked questions about how things work at Google Fiber. Today we’ll hear from Derek Slater, a Government Relations Manager at Google who works with the Fiber team, to explain how we work with local city governments to build a fiber network. - Ed.

When most Americans connect to the Internet from their homes, their signal travels along a local telecommunications infrastructure, currently built mostly of copper cables that run along utility poles or underground. Now that technology has advanced, communities are starting to upgrade to fiber-optic cable that’s better suited to 21st century communications demands, like high-speed Internet. And that involves a lot of detailed planning — utility pole by utility pole and block by block.

That’s what Google Fiber teams are working on right now in the Kansas City area, Austin, and Provo. We’re going to tell you more about the actual construction process in a future blog post, but here we want to focus on how we work closely with city leaders before anyone picks up a shovel or climbs a ladder.

The existing telecommunications infrastructure was installed bit by bit throughout the 20th century — so it’s likely that cities have never experienced the kind of scale and pace of building an entire telecommunications infrastructure all at once. That’s why our first step is to sit down with them to discuss how we can work together quickly and efficiently on such an unusually large project. Some people have suggested that these conversations between Google Fiber and city leaders involve requests for special incentives, exclusive privileges or tax breaks — and that’s simply not true. Instead, like anyone looking to deploy a new network, our conversations cover some pretty mundane stuff, usually across 3 main topics:

Access to infrastructure - In order to build a network, we need to string fiber along utility poles or install it underground through protective tubes called conduit. It’s not feasible for each and every provider to build their own poles and conduit — after all, there’s only so much space on city streets, and it'd be an ugly waste of resources to force everyone to put up brand new poles alongside existing ones and dig up city streets unnecessarily. So it's essential that cities ensure that new providers can use existing poles and conduit. We work with the city and, where applicable, the local electric utility and telephone company to figure out which poles and conduit we can use for Google Fiber, then we agree on a fair market price we can pay to lease that space.

Access to local infrastructure maps - Once we get permission to lease space on existing poles and in available conduit, we need to know where all of that infrastructure is physically located, so that we can plan where our fiber lines will go. It is critical that the city provide accurate maps about poles and conduit, plus info about existing water, gas, and electricity lines, so that we can know where we can safely build our fiber network.

Expedited construction permits - Google Fiber cities need to be ready for the large volume of permits (thousands!) that we’ll be submitting to them. We comply with each city’s permitting code, and we work closely with cities to figure out a way to expedite the permitting process to make sure that they’re comfortable and ready for the planned pace.

Our work with the city doesn’t end here. We stay in touch with city leaders and work closely with them throughout the entire construction and installation process to make it as quick and painless for residents as possible — a topic which we’ll cover in our next “Fiber Behind the Scenes” blog post.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Provo: the wait for Google Fiber is (almost) over!

It’s almost time to open the firehose and let gigabit Internet flow to the “Silicon Slopes” — starting today, several thousand Provo residents (residential customers of the local Veracity Networks) can start signing up for Google Fiber. Sign-ups for the rest of Provo residents will open in January.

This sign-up process is different (and faster) in Provo than in Kansas City and Austin because our construction process is different. In KC and Austin, we need to install thousands of miles of brand new fiber-optic cables, which requires many months of planning, engineering and construction before we can open sign-ups and bring service to customers. Here in Provo, we purchased the iProvo network from the City of Provo, so a lot of this network already exists — we just needed to upgrade it to make it faster.

Veracity customers get the first crack at signing up for Fiber service — they’re already hooked up to our newly-upgraded fiber because they’ve been connected to the former iProvo network, so it will be efficient and quick to install Google Fiber for any of them who want to switch providers. This “first chance” opportunity is only for Veracity residential customers right now; other Provo residents and local small businesses can go to our website and sign-up to be notified when Fiber is coming to their area.

If you’re a Veracity residential customer, this means you’re eligible for Google Fiber service, including an Internet connection that’s up to 100 times faster than basic broadband. All you have to do is go to google.com/fiber/provo, enter your address, and select which Google Fiber package (Gigabit Internet, Gigabit + TV, or Free Internet) you want. In order to get this early access to Google Fiber, make sure you sign up before October 31.

This process is slightly different for those of you who live in apartment buildings or condos (what we call “Multi-Dwelling Units,” or MDUs). Since we need to bring Fiber to the entire building, the process takes a little longer. We are starting the conversations with landlords and property owners across the city. If you live in a building with 9 or more units, get in touch with your landlord and (1) tell them that you want Google Fiber, and (2) ask them to fill out this form. A member of our local Provo Fiber team will contact your landlord to discuss next steps on how to bring gigabit speed to your unit.

Have questions? Confused about what this means for you? Just give us a call, email us or do an online chat with our customer service team. We’re here and ready to help, 24/7.