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Google Fiber: What is it and should you get it?

Google Fiber - a super fast optical fiber Internet service for $70 a month –  includes a free Nexus tablet. Google Fiber is only available in Kansas City, so far.

By Maria Fisher and Peter SvenssonAssociated Press / July 27, 2012

City worker Tim Shotwell installs a Google Boulevard sign in Bay City, Mich., in 2010 as part of a bid to get Google to choose Bay City for the Google Fiber network. Kansas City won the bid and Google unveiled the service Thursday, July 26, in Kansas City.

Michael Randolph/The Bay City Times/AP

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Kansas City

 Google Inc. revealed Thursday what it will charge for its long-awaited, ultra-fast Internet service in Kansas City: $70 per month.

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The service is intended as a showcase for what's technically possible and as a testbed for the development of new ways to use the Internet. Bypassing the local cable and phone companies, Google has spent months and an unknown amount of money pulling its own optical fiber through the two-state Kansas City region.

After vetting many contenders, Google announced last year that the Kansas City metro area would be the first to get its "Fiber for Communities" broadband service.

Some cities had used gimmicks to get the company's attention. Topeka informally renamed itself "Google, Kansas." A group in Baltimore launched a website that used Google's mapping service to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and give their reasons for wanting the service. Hundreds of groups on Facebook implored Google to come to their cities.

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The $70 monthly fee will pay for "gigabit" Internet service, about 100 times faster than a basic cable modem. For another $50 per month, Google will provide cable-TV-like service over the fiber, too, and a Nexus 7 tablet computer that works as a remote.

The channel line-up includes Nickelodeon, Discovery, Bravo, Starz and Showtime (which may require additional fees) but is missing AMC, HBO, CNN, Fox News and ESPN. Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres wouldn't say why the channels were missing, but said the line-up would expand.

Google said it will only start hooking up households in neighborhoods where a sufficient number of people want service. Kansas City residents have six weeks to pre-register for service, after which Google will decide which areas have enough interest.

Google will also offer a slower Internet option, at a DSL-like 5 megabits per second, with no monthly fee to households that pay a $300 installation fee. The free service is guaranteed for at least seven years, but is available only in neighborhoods where enough people have pre-registered.

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