Google Fiber reaches enviable 75% penetration in parts of Kansas

The gigabit broadband service from the world’s most recognisable web company, Google, is still in its relative infancy in terms of national roll-out – but it hasn’t stopped it from succeeding monumentally in areas where customers are benefitting early.

Bernstein Research is reporting that Google Fiber has reached a penetration of 75% in some neighbourhoods in Kansas – an uptake ‘to die for’ and unheard of by most service providers.

Google has changed the overbuild model – where competing networks can be built through city’s rights of way – by extracting concessions from municipalities and a new ‘fiberhood’ strategy where neighbourhoods can be surveyed for demand.

Potential Fiberhoods are neighbourhoods which Google surveys and asks for deposits from would-be customers to cover costs and gauge importance of each rollout. Once enough interest is displayed, they build the ‘last mile’ to that neighbourhood.

Overbuilders and incumbents of the past were unable to exercise such tactics previously due to rules such as franchise build-out requirements, and carrier-of-last-resort regulations. It is due to this that Google Fiber is causing controversy with the cities allowing them to deploy it being labelled as ‘cherry picking’.

Bernstein Research conducted a door-to-door survey in five Kansas City neighborhoods where Google has deployed. In one neighbourhood, Wornall Homestead, Bernstein found an impressive 83% penetration for Google Fiber.

Around 15% subscribed to Google’s broadband and TV which is priced at $120/month, whilst 52% opted for the 1 gig broadband-only option which is priced at $70/month. An additional 15% opted for the ‘free’ Google 5 Mbps broadband offer.

In lower income neighbourhoods, the penetration dropped to 27% (which is still good for an overbuilder.) Bernstein predicts Google could achieve 50% penetration for Google Fiber in all of Kansas City within the next 4 years.

Competitors, naturally, have started taking notice. AT&T is rolling out a similar approach with their GigaPower FTTH project, whilst even smaller providers such as C Spire are also following the strategy laid-out by Google.

It’s a fantastic start to Google’s Fiber service – we’ll be watching with close-interest on any further developments.

What do you think about Google Fibre’s roll-out and its controversy? Let us know in the comments.

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