How Much Would You Pay For Gigabit Broadband?
Following the announcement last week that Google is looking for community partners to develop a 1-gigabit test bed network, Om Malik asks, “Where Else In The World Can You Get 1 Gbps to the Home?”
He points to a couple of rural telephone companies here in the US that are supposedly offering such service. I tried to verify them. In the case of Rural of Kansas, their website boasts fiber connections, but only speeds “Up to 100 meg”. Pineland doesn’t list any gigabit service in their Internet offerings, only DSL. Finally, 3 Rivers also lists only DSL service. If any of the three are providing gigabit connections, they’re not doing a great job of advertising it. It’s also not at all clear what that will cost you.
Of the instances of large scale deployment Om was able to find around the globe, only three appear to be past the planning stages. For those three, the cost of gigabit service – in US dollars – is substantially more than you might be willing to pay.
A 1-gbit connection in Sweden will cost you the equivalent of $207, in Hong Kong it runs $215, and in Portugal it will set you back $342. (Hong Kong and Portugal are quoted from Om’s numbers. Sweden’s number is currency converted from the post Om links – 1495 Swedish Kronar converts to $206.64 as of this evening.)
What a Bargain!
At roughly 5 to 8.5 times more per month than most Americans currently pay for Internet (around $40), the gigabit service might seem a bit pricey. And that, frankly, is part of the problem. While the heaviest users of the Net would love to have gigabit service, it’s simply not practical for most people to shell out $200 per month for such service. In fact, there are a staggering number of people in the US who can’t be convinced to give up their dial up connections at all.
In it’s announcement of the gigabit trial, Google suggested they would make their network available to subscribers “at a competitive price”. It’s clear from the high cost of gigabit services elsewhere that “competitive” price may still be substantially more than most users are accustomed to paying. Monthly charges by other ISPs clearly indicate such speeds carry a price tag. Is Google planning to run its network at a massive loss just to provide the testing ground? If so, how much will we actually learn about how to run such networks in the real world – where networks have to recoup the investment.