GigaOM reports that Google sent out invitations to a "special event" in Kansas City on July 26. Although the details are scarce, it's presumed to be the official launch of Google Fiber, the company's highly-anticipated fiber-to-the-home Gigabit network. Google previously stated that the launch would take place sometime this summer, and unnamed sources just recently said that Google Fiber would likely go live by the end of next week.
"We would like to invite you to a special announcement about Google Fiber and the next chapter of the Internet," reads the invitation. The event will take place on July 26, 2012, at 10:30 am CST. This Google Fiber webpage even confirms the launch as does the Google Fiber blog.
Google announced back in February 2010 that it planned to build a gigabit network, and then chose Kansas City as the starting point a month later. It challenges the "monopolistic tendencies" of many ISPs like Verizon and Comcast who want to charge more for less while tacking on bandwidth caps. Google Fiber is intended on providing fast speeds at cheaper prices.
The company has kept quiet about Google Fiber since its last blog entry at the end of June. It talked about the state of broadband Internet access in Kansas City, reporting that that there is a real digital divide in both portions (KS, MO). In a recent study, Google discovered that 17-percent of Kansas Citians are not going online at all, and 8-percent are only using dial-up or slow speed wireless connections.
"These stats lead to a follow-up question: why are one-quarter of Kansas Citians not connected to the web at home?," the blog states. "We found that one of the primary reasons is cost. 28-percent of those who don’t use said that they don’t go online because they don’t have a computer, or because Internet access is too expensive. Meanwhile, 41-percent of respondents said they don’t go online because they just don’t think it’s relevant to their lives. This is a big deal."
Of course it is. Google has spent loads of money laying down its fiber network only to discover a portion doesn't even access the Internet. To get these people online, Google suggests encouraging policies that will make computers and Internet access more affordable, and promoting digital literacy initiatives. A lot of outreach and education also needs to take place on a community level, the company said.
"The Google Fiber project is about making the web better and faster -- but it’s also about making the Internet more accessible for people throughout Kansas City. Digital inclusion here is a priority for Google, and it’s clear that it’s also a priority for community nonprofits and the local governments," Google said.
Look to hear more info about Google Fiber next week as the launch date approaches.