Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) ultrafast Internet and television services are expanding around the country, with four new cities recently added to the list of upcoming locations. But even with its growing popularity, there are a handful of things most people don't know about Google Fiber and Fiber TV.
So let's take a minute and clear these things up:
1. Sometimes Google lets you sign up after the deadline
Google says on its site that once Fiber comes to a city and people sign up in specific neighborhoods, then it won't come back and allow new customers to sign up after it's moved on.
But that's not exactly true. Google recently gave Kansas City, Mo., citizens an extra chance to sign up in some areas even after the deadline had passed.
2. You may pay more for Google Fiber TV than your neighbor
While Google hasn't changed the price of its Internet service, Google Fiber TV -- which includes cable channels as well as the 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service -- has increased its price. New Kansas City Fiber TV customers pay $10 more per month than original customers.
The increase has come as Google has had to pay more for cable programming costs, just like other providers do. Google Fiber's chief, Milo Medin, told FierceCable back in October that content is "the single biggest piece of our cost structure."
3. Fiber TV isn't compatible with some Google services
Fiber TV customers can't directly access their Google Play accounts on a Fiber TV set top box. This means that watching movies or listening to music purchased through Google Play isn't available yet. You'll need a separate Chromecast streaming stick for that.
The Verge notes that media can be uploaded to the Fiber TV box, but it seems a bit odd that Google doesn't incorporate some of its own services directly onto the box. As Google Fiber grows, it's not hard to imagine the company upgrading Fiber TV boxes to incorporate Google Play, but for now customers have to do without it.
4. People actually move to sign up for Google Fiber
No kidding. A recent Wired article mentioned how start-ups are coming to Kansas City because of Google Fiber, and mentioned two people who have moved from New York City and Boston to gain access to Fiber. A product manager for Google Fiber told The Verge back in December that Google regularly talks with people who moved to the city to tap into Fiber's speeds.
5. You can get the same speeds and price from AT&T, but there's a catch
Last month, AT&T (NYSE: T) announced it's expanding its Gigapower Fiber connections in Kansas City, matching Google's 1-gigabit-per-second speed and charging the same $70-per-month price. The company's also expanding its fiber service into a handful of locations Google is moving into.
But there's one drawback to AT&T's service, and it's a big one. To get the $70 monthly price, users have to agree to let AT&T track "the webpages you visit, the time you spend on each, the links or ads you see and follow, and the search terms you enter." Yikes. To stop the snooping, users can shell out an extra $29 per month.
Google's real play
Google is, of course, using some of its Fiber connections to help serve up ads and does a bit of tracking itself. But the company says on its website that it doesn't pair Fiber data with other Google services data, unless users give it permission.
Ad services aside, Google's also stimulating new competition in the ultrafast Internet space, as evidenced by AT&T's Gigapower offerings. Time Warner Cable has also increased Internet speeds in locations where Fiber is coming, all without increasing its prices.
That's great news for Internet users looking for higher speeds and reasonable prices -- and Google's just getting started. As the company expands into more cities across the country, more Internet users should benefit from the increased competition. U.S. consumers consistently pay more money for slower Internet speeds than our peers around the world, according to a study by New America. But that tide may be turning, if Google has anything to say about it.