Will This New Technology Mark the End of Google Fiber?

When Google (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) first introduced Fiber, its lightning-fast Internet service, to Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri a few years ago, it signaled the beginning of a new era of connectivity. Google Fiber, once it's up and running, means no more worrying about slow downloads and buffering when streaming the latest movie or show off the Internet. And with the proliferation of video expected to continue, the more speed, the better.

But what if Google Fiber, and the host of cable and telecom 1 gigabit per second, or Gbps, solutions that have cropped up since, were left in the proverbial connectivity dust? And what about a solution that offered consumers the fastest Internet connection in history, without tearing up the yards and neighborhoods of residents? Suddenly, all those cities that have been tripping over themselves to woo Fiber to their regions might not be quite so receptive. It could happen, thanks to the folks at Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU  ) .

The breakthrough
Bell Labs, a division of Alcatel-Lucent, gets the credit for setting the record for the world's fastest Internet connection. At 10 Gbps, Alcatel-Lucent's XG-FAST technology blows the doors off old-school broadband connections. XG-FAST is 1,000 times faster than broadband, and 10 times faster than Google Fiber, taking connectivity to a whole new level.

As impressive as the Bell Labs results are, the manner in which it was able to achieve its world-record speeds is even more remarkable. Unlike Google Fiber, XG-FAST doesn't require running big, fiber pipes into homes or businesses. Why? Because the researchers at Bell Labs were able to achieve 10 Gbps using a fiber cable that then syncs with traditional copper lines.

It works like this: let's say there's a fiber cable on the street and copper pipes are in place in the actual structure, as is the case with most homes and businesses today. That combination of fiber in the street, and copper pipes on site is all XG-FAST needs to deliver 10 Gbps. Don't have fiber pipes in your city or state? Using existing copper pipes, XG-FAST is still able to match Google Fiber's 1 Gbps download speeds, with none of the downsides of installing thousands of miles of fiber cable throughout a city.

What's the big deal?
The popularity of streaming video is exploding thanks to the folks at Netflix, Hulu, and services like them. The result is Internet users require more bandwidth than ever before. In fact, though it's not quite sweeping the nation yet, more and more Americans are ditching cable companies altogether -- "cutting the cord," so to speak--much like using cells phones rather than telephone landlines.

Nearly 20% of Americans go without cable, choosing instead to stream online shows and watch movies courtesy of Netflix and its competitors. Let's face it, who wouldn't want to tell their cable company good riddance? As the need for Internet speed rises, so too will the potential for Google Fiber, let alone Alcatel-Lucent's solution.

Hiccups with Google Fiber
Unfortunately, the rollout of Google Fiber has come with its share of bumps. Before work even begins, local governments are forced to jump through hoops to "apply" for Google Fiber, and there are personnel issues. For example, Austin, Texas is a Google Fiber city, and now, as the serious work is about to begin, the local government has requested $1 million to help fund, "temporary staffing and other efforts related to Google Fiber and AT&T's major fiber optic projects."

You might recall, AT&T was one of several Fiber competitors who suddenly remembered that it, too, could offer faster Internet connections to its customers, but only after Google Fiber came to town.

And it's not just the cost and governmental red tape causing some angst. In Kansas City, Missouri residents have complained to officials that Google Fiber workers tear up their yards, leave huge messes during off-hours, and have broken gas lines, to name a few problems. Alcatel-Lucent's solution requires much less infrastructure, expense, and the headaches associated with laying down Google Fiber's Internet pipes.

Final Foolish thoughts
Unfortunately for streaming video fans, gamers, and cord-cutters, Alcatel-Lucent's record-setting discovery isn't ready for prime-time just yet. However, achieving XG-FAST's 1 Gbps connectivity speed -- matching Google Fiber -- requires little more than existing copper cables, meaning that "slower" versions could be available sooner as opposed to later. How long before Google Fiber's 1 Gbps isn't the best alternative on the block? No way to know for sure, but its coming, and Google Fiber better be ready.

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Read/Post Comments (8) | Recommend This Article (10)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 12:42 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    This is actually terrible.

    1. Cities/towns will take the easy route as always.

    2. cities/towns will be stuck with their up to 100+ year old copper wires which will remain until they are beyond repair and need outdated copper again.

    3. in a decade when they find yet another faster way to send data over Fiber with speeds 100000000x faster than this, cities will still be trapped in the past because of this quick easy fix.

    Let the past go already, get Fiber in place, its well past time.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 12:43 PM, JJ82 wrote:

    Oh and I forgot #4

    4. Keeping copper means everyone is STUCK with their current selection (read LACK OF) ISPs. Fiber can force a change in market selection and that is what we need badly.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 12:58 PM, michaelhoustong wrote:

    umm...did they do their research on this one? xg-fast has a maximum distance of 30 meters. why not just run fiber all the way? that is 98.42 ft. using the current vdsl infrastructure loop length of at least 1500ft is required. vdsl2 can do a max of (highly theoretical) 200-300Mbps (roughly iirc) for up to 3000ft (depending on the speed) . if you want to replace that with xg-fast you'd have to run fiber up to the backyard of the customer. how is that different from google fiber? whine not just run the fiber 100ft longer and have a more stable connection(no electro magnetic interference to worry about since it's lightwave) and let me tell you another thing,cleaning up the copper to where something like xg-fast might work will probably cost a lot of money anyways. *and* even if everyone had fiber ISP's will *NOT* give anyone 10Gbps speeds. most websites don't have 10Gbps uplinks, even if they did have one they would not dedicate it to one customer.even if they did the internet cannot handle a few million 10Gbps users sending data at full capacity. moreover most people can barely use a 50Mbps connection. watching 3 netflix shows+youtube at 1080p and web browsing can fit fine in 60Mbps. I could say so much more but here is a nice article I ran into

    the competition with google fiber is over infrastructure dominance and monopoly. it's not about the speed it brings but the competition to the industry(which is of course much needed). people will some day use 1Gbps or even 10Gbps but copper is just not stable. it's basically an antenna for radio waves which cause interference on the signal. what is needed in this industry other than competition is people willing to pay more for their service(either that or ISP's willing to put up with a great deal of lost revenue).

    thanks for reading.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 6:02 PM, Justchris420 wrote:

    Do you need all that speed? No most people don't even need 20mbps per person. I have Comcast and my speeds average 163mbps download and 25mbps upload with up to 6 people online gaming, streaming videos, Facebooking ect all the time and I don't lag or have shows buffer, downloads still happen real fast. Problem I have is what I pay for the speeds I get $100 to Comcast a month when Google fiber is $80 for for 5.5 times the speed. I make me wounder what is Comcast doing with all the money over the years, Google fiber is a hole new network with a lot less clients then Comcast has but so should not Google fiber be more expensive then Comcast?

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 9:38 PM, doawithlife wrote:

    Google ran tests in 2010 and found the max speed of Google fiber is 50Gbps.

    This will eventually require google to upgrade to a different type of beam, but they can use the same wires.

    For now, it is cheaper and makes more sense to offer 1Gbps. As the technology drops in cost and consumers need more bandwith, google will probably eventually offer 5 then 10 then 50 Gbps.

    As of now though, their existing lines are ready for many upgrades.

    I'd say they are already prepared.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2014, at 11:34 PM, VegasSmitty wrote:

    I always enjoy reading about technology we'll never see actually happen.

  • Report this Comment On August 24, 2014, at 1:23 PM, peepfrog wrote:

    My house is newer and already fiber-optic ready with an 11j coaxial underground to the house, been waiting over 11 years now for something that actually can use this stuff ;)

  • Report this Comment On August 25, 2014, at 5:26 AM, suitcase1936 wrote:

    Well from an ol timer. make the mistakes quicker.

    .Google is busy with Motorola trying to get get marketing info thru. your interaction on line. (privacy issues here).

    Have we used all the sky nets ???

    Love the wireless.

    .Clean, but cluttered at the moment.

    Respectfully submitted.

    comments welcomed.

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Tim Brugger

Tim has been writing professionally for several years after spending 18 years (Whew! Was it that long?)in both the retail and institutional side of the financial services industry. Tim resides in Portland, Oregon with his three children and the family dog.

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