Google Fiber is all the buzz these days, throughout Kansas City and northeast Johnson County. But while communities are begging Google to extend its ultra-fast fiber service to their homes, fiber lines are already being laid through many of those front yards.
Right now SureWest is laying fiber in Fairway and has wired Mission and Roeland Park. It also has service in Lenexa, Overland Park, Shawnee and Kansas City, Mo.. Prairie Village has communicated with SureWest about adding service, but the SureWest capital budget for 2013 has not been set. So, Prairie Village is a maybe for SureWest service next year and Google hasn’t decided where it is going with its fiber service after its next campaign, which will include Westwood, Westwood Hills and Mission Woods.
What’s the difference between the two fiber options that we may have in the future? Not much that you would notice, contends SureWest general manager of Kansas City operations Matt Zuschlag. Side by side, you “couldn’t see a difference in a home application. It is the same technology that is deployed with Google,” Zuschlag says. Google, though, delivers 1 gigabit per second speeds into its router and to ethernet connections and 360 megabit per second wi-fi throughput. SureWest offers 50 mbps internet speed, both upload and download. Time Warner lists a top available speed of 50 mbps download and 5 mbps upload.
Zuschlag says the SureWest service makes video “crystal clear” even though it does not approach Google speed. SureWest plans offer internet, TV and phone, like Time Warner, while the Google plan does not include phone. Google also has not cemented all of its station lineup yet.
Another difference: SureWest is laying its conduit underground while Google has gone overhead along existing utility lines in its rollout to date. Zuschlag says the reliability is better underground because it eliminates weather concerns and the company can install faster without going through the permit process to use existing poles.
In any case, the competition is heating up. In one Reinhardt Estates neighborhood this week a “Bring Google” here sign decorated a front yard just a block from the SureWest crews installing new fiber.