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Summary:

When is a gigabit not a gigabit? Perhaps when it’s Google’s gigabit network? Speaking today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt said that the company’s planned fiber to the home network will deliver sustained speeds of between 300 to 500 Mbps.

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Updated: When is a gigabit not a gigabit? Perhaps when it’s Google’s gigabit network. Speaking today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt said the company’s planned fiber-to-the-home network in Kansas City (Missouri and Kansas) will deliver sustained speeds of between 300 to 500 Mbps. This is still fast, but it’s not the gigabit that Google originally touted. I’ve emailed Google for a bit more clarity on Schmidt’s statements, and will update if I hear back.

Update: Despite being asked by an audience member about Google’s fiber efforts in Kansas City, a Google spokeswoman emailed me to explain that Schmidt wasn’t referring to Google’s network when he discussed the 300-500 Mbps speeds. She emailed, “”He was speaking about the future of fiber, not specifically about Google Fiber. As promised, we will deliver 1 gigabit speeds in Kansas City.” So, perhaps Schmidt was confused, because Google fiber will hit a gig.

  1. Perhaps, it has something to do with the TV service Google is trying to provide.

    1. Stacey Higginbotham nihir Tuesday, February 28, 2012

      That’s a fat video service. Even AT&T only saves about 6Mbps of capacity down for U-Verse.

      1. And Uverse has a crappy signal that is worse than dial up streaming.

  2. There are a variety of topologies a fiber to the premises network can use.

    Some of the topologies result in a substantial number of premises sharing a single “connection” (for example, a single connection to the OLT goes through splitters to serve 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, or 64 premises). Thus the gigabit capacity is “shared”. Some localities have dealt with this by allowing the connection to “burst” to the full gigabit when possible.

    Aside from the topology issues, there’s also a backhaul issue. It’s one thing to provide a gigabit of connectivity to a single user. But if you add a second user, do you then have to increase backhaul by another gigabit? The easiest solution is to eventually throttle usage at some reasonably high number. Amusingly enough, this is a variant of the same issue that AOL (and all the other dialup service providers) had to deal with in determining how many modems they needed to have per subscriber — or more correctly, how many subscribers they could sign up per modem).

    reinharden

    1. True and it’s not clear how Goog might split capacity. On backhaul Verizon did just announce a 100G long-haul pipe terminating in KC, but I’m in the camp that says we’ll always need more bandwidth :)

  3. Well, according to my CCNA instructor, who works at a major Kansas-City-based ISP, Google will not be able to achieve gigabit speeds because of theoretical limitations in the TCP protocol, if I remember correctly. Sorry I can’t remember the details.

  4. Huh? She *should* publish a rebuttal statement from a company if she questions a CEO’s comments.

    I’d hardly call this story a fluff piece.

  5. Perhaps I, er, said something different, but, er, what I said was, the same, but different. Trust me. Like, okay? (What?)

  6. this is not a story. this is you being confused.

    1. Stacey Higginbotham bryan Wednesday, February 29, 2012

      This is not me being confused. It was reporting on what a confused Google exec said.

  7. Reinharden has it closest to the mark. I don’t personally handle fibre, but as a satellite telecom worker, I wouldn’t attribute one gigabit per household either.

    In practice, when setting up a network, the engineer plans for the amount of users that SHOULD be on, during peak hours. When the CEO says 500Mb/s **sustained**, he means that if 3/5 houses query the network at close to the same time, this is the speed they will get.

    In satellite terms: We have 20 people using our connection. As soon as they get done with work, 10 of these people are going to check facebook. To satisfy the customers, we only need to buy and program 13 people worth of bandwidth (three extra to allow for leeway). We save money, and the customers don’t notice the difference.

    Conversely, if you DO use the computer at 3:30 AM, you will probably exceed your advertized rate.

    I am interested in the CCNA instructor talking about the limits of TCP. What’s the rationale there?

  8. Well we won’t be able to see if this is true until they actually build the network, and so far, that’s not looking like it will be anytime soon.

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