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A few of our Google Fiber teammates went to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2023 to get the scoop on what’s next in tech and to make sure Google Fiber is ready for it. Check out their thoughts on the conference and what it means for Google Fiber. 


The energy of CES 2023 was striking. It is the second year back to in person programming since the pandemic began, and it was clear that every attendee (~115,000) was fired up to get their hands on a look into the future of tech.


To set the scene: There wasn’t a single booth space empty and, needless to say, there was new technology everywhere. We spent a lot of time exploring the interactive features and getting a feel for the groundbreaking new hardware. 


Here are our key takeaways:


1. The home is getting even smarter.

Devices centered around the connected home and pervasive AI was one of the main themes at this year’s CES. Smart bird feeders, robot lawn mowers, connected electric panels, 8K VR headsets (with rumblings of 12K upcoming), various immersive content experiences — these products are examples of how brands are pushing the boundaries of what we know technology to be capable of from every angle. 


To Tom Lee, a Commodity Program Manager at Google Fiber, his experience with the latest high resolution VR display felt (quite literally) out of this world as he was immersed in a virtual space flight. He also noted that Matter, a smart home interoperability protocol, is becoming predominant as it was featured in many of the large consumer brand showcases, use of Matter will help push the smart home revolution to the next level. 


While much of this technology isn’t readily available to us now, it’s evident that technology featured at CES this year will soon become standard. Which brings us to our next point. . .




2. All those new home devices need great home internet. 

Why did a team of Google Fiber folks head all the way to Las Vegas to attend CES? Think about it this way: All of that new connected home technology needs a home network that’s ready to support it. 


In order to best serve those future needs with future-proof internet, it is important to be familiar with the types of devices that are coming down the pike. That means it’s important for us to get an understanding of which applications and devices will require faster internet, and a reduction in Wi-Fi latency, so we’re able to prepare our network to handle those demands.


3. Wi-Fi 7 has arrived.

Potentially the most notable development for us was the introduction of Wi-Fi 7 at CES 2023. We knew it was coming, but to see it work in real time clarified the next step in our quest to bring customers internet that can do it all. 


Several vendors demonstrated the ability of Wi-Fi 7 to deliver speeds nearing 5-7 Gbps over the air, which is a huge jump forward. Tom pointed out that the highly anticipated Multi-Link Operation (MLO) feature will greatly reduce Wi-Fi latency by combining multiple radios to enhance video conferencing and gaming experiences. With previous generations of Wi-Fi, even if you had a 5 Gig connection to your home, you would also need to be connected through Ethernet cable via a 10 Gig network to get anywhere close to realizing that speed. Wi-Fi 7 opens up a whole new world for the future of wireless and multigig connections in the home.


4. Multi-gig is officially the new gigabit.


We walked away from CES 2023 more confident than ever that multi-gig internet is well on its way to becoming mainstream. From the sheer amount of connected devices in (and outside) the home, to the increased bandwidth requirements for things like working from home, streaming 8k video, and virtual reality, multi-gig will soon become a necessity in the coming years — and we’re ready to bring it to our customers


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Posted by Nagaraj Padur, Networking System Architect; Tom Lee, Commodity Program Manager; Richard Zhou, Networking System Architect; and Nick Saporito, Head of Multi-gig & Commercial Product



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At Google Fiber, we’re working to bring fast, reliable internet to more people — because everybody deserves fast, reliable internet. 


While we’re better known for our fiber-to-the-home networks, that’s not the only way we bring great internet to customers. Google Fiber Webpass uses wireless technology to provide high-speed internet to the apartments, condominiums and offices we serve across the country. As we continue to grow our footprint across the country, we’re integrating this method for delivering high-speed service in more areas where it makes sense in all our existing cities and in our new expansion areas as well.


Wireless technology is a broad term that can mean many different things, like Wi-Fi, cellular, bluetooth, IOT protocols and military communications. Those are great, but the Google Fiber Webpass  wireless method of internet deployment is different. We use millimeter wave — or wireless radio — technology for what’s known as “backhaul,” for how we deliver wireless internet to any given building. 


This method can really speed up how quickly we can get service to a multi-unit building. Simply put, while our fiber optic lines deliver fast speeds, they can be costly and time consuming to construct, or even simply infeasible to deploy especially in dense, urban areas, where many of these buildings are. With radio technology, all we have to do is bring our fiber optic connection to one of the buildings in the radio network that covers a given area. That makes it incredibly fast and easy to implement and still delivers remarkable speeds, which can be comparable to a fiber optic connection, so we can serve more units more quickly.




So how does our radio technology work? If you live in a building that’s equipped with our millimeter wave internet, notice up on the roof of one of our Google Fiber Webpass buildings a small-but-mighty radio.


Though you can’t see it, that radio is pointing directly at another radio on top of a different building nearby. This allows us to cover a lot of ground (or sky, in this case), very quickly. When we install these radios, we line them up so precisely that it’s like perfectly aligning two tips of a very well sharpened pencil. Each radio acts as a transmitter and a receiver, like a wireless bridge — almost like fiber optic lines across town.


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And when it comes to performance, like fiber optic, our millimeter wave technology travels nearly at the speed of light — meaning our customers get a very fast, very reliable connection. The only tangible difference between fiber optic and millimeter wave technology is that while one uses glass cables to transmit internet nearly at the speed of light, the other uses air. 


Like any technology, internet technology is continually improving. Fiber optic and millimeter wave technologies are linked, so when fiber optic technology gets better, so does wireless. Google Fiber is continuing to integrate our use of wireless and fiber optic technology to offer customers the fast, reliable internet service they expect from us. 


Posted by Tom Brownlow, Senior Network Operations Manager, and Blake Drager, Head of Technology - Google Fiber Webpass


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In this installment of our small business series, Tim Scales, Executive Director at the American Underground in Durham, North Carolina, shares how the organization is meeting the growing needs of their clients through cutting-edge technology and a whole lot of coffee.


It’s really hard to grasp the sheer depth of who we are and what we do until you’re within the walls of the American Underground. Sure, we can tell you we’re a Google for Startups Tech Hub, but it’s only really once you step inside our building that things become clear.


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When you visit our space, you’ll begin to understand the palpably energetic community within our walls. Most of our members consider themselves high growth technology startups, over half of which are POC and women-led.


Our clients also represent 39 different industries. Healthtech and medical device companies, B2B SaaS companies, nonprofits, VC firms, marketing agencies — there’s no lack of entrepreneurial spirit at the American Underground. And it’s our job to make sure that we’re providing these incredible businesses with the most effective services possible.


Especially because we’re a tech hub, it’s critical that we have best in class technology in order to attract and retain tech companies that work from American Underground. That’s why we have Google Fiber.


Even when we’re first touring with prospective clients and showing them our space, the fact that we have high-speed, fiber optic internet is one of the first things we bring up — and it’s of mass appeal. I can assure you that before we had Google Fiber, we were not mentioning our internet speeds as a selling point for being a part of our community. Now, it’s a bolstering talking point.



In order for our members to effectively run their businesses and work seamlessly with their teams to showcase the best of what they have to offer to customers and investors, they need high-quality, reliable internet running 24/7. 


We often say that the American Underground is powered by strong coffee and stronger internet. It’s no understatement. The strength, availability and uptime of our internet is possibly the highest priority to our members. (And on our side, we’ve actually saved 90% on internet costs for faster internet by making the switch to Google Fiber. Yes, 90%. I couldn’t believe it either.)


Without reliable internet, the American Underground isn’t a functioning business — and our clients’ wouldn’t be either. We’re happy that our internet connection is now one of our strengths.



Posted by Tim Scales, Executive Director, American Underground.




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Our small business series continues with Santiago Salazar of Austin’s Flor Keeps on how quality internet has literally helped his family business grow. For more of the Flor Keeps story, you can also check out the Google Fiber YouTube channel


How It Started


Flor Keeps is a floral company located in Austin, Texas, specializing in real flowers that last over one year. None of our flowers require any water, & should only be kept indoors!

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Inspired by my father’s flower business over the last 10 years, I believed it was time to shift the mold of what flowers could look like, come from, and how long they can actually last. We quickly came to recognize that this city embodied qualities that are rare to find anywhere else. Austin radiates a sense of creativity, encourages risk-takers to be themselves, & poses an emphasis on always giving back to the community. The food, the scenery _ and most importantly — the people have elevated what it means to love what you do & where you live. 

The goal for Flor Keeps is to bring the Austin community together & reinvent our wildest visions, ideas, & passions. If there’s anything about this city, it’s that we dare to be different. We push the boundaries of the ordinary & we fall together, knowing we successfully gave it everything.

How We Succeed


Flor Keeps currently operates in three avenues: Retail, Mass Market, and E-Commerce.

We owe all of our success in those outlets to the internet. Without it, we would primarily depend on only “word of mouth” to share the story of our products! Since the beginning of Flor Keeps, we have been able to reach our customers in the Austin-area through Google searches, online delivery platforms, or simply through our social media posts. Whether it’s attending to walk-in customers, responding quickly to online orders, or fulfilling orders to our partner supermarkets, we streamline our business through the use of our Google Fiber high-speed internet – 

thankfully!


The Good Stuff


At Flor Keeps, we donate a portion of our proceeds to an Austin-based non-profit organization called WellAware. WellAware implements lasting clean water systems to drive development and empower communities in East Africa.

We wanted to contribute to a cause that not only helps people in need, but also makes sense for our brand to collaborate with. Our flowers at Flor Keeps don’t require water, but people do. The techniques we use to extend the lifetime of our product go hand in hand with water conservation. Therefore, we are able to create an initiative to help those that really do need this resource!

So take a moment to use your internet to come visit us (and maybe find the perfect gift this holiday season)!

Posted by Santiago Salazar, Founder, Flor Keeps




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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month! While our customers’ security online is a top priority for us all year long, this is a great opportunity to make sure they understand how to protect themselves and their accounts as much as possible.


Here’s the best way to secure your Google Fiber account and how to confirm that it is a real Google Fiber representative you are talking to over chat or on the phone.


Secure from the start

When you first sign up for service with Google Fiber, you will be asked to set up a PIN code. This PIN is the primary means for authenticating your account when you call in to support. Authentication is required for almost any change of service, change in account, or to discuss any details of a past or current bill. You can change this PIN code at your convenience through the online support portal.


If you call into the Google Fiber support center, the customer service representative will ask you to provide your PIN code before they can answer certain questions or make almost any changes to your account.


Being confident in your Google Fiber interactions

There’s a lot out there about scams being run by people who want to compromise your accounts. Here’s how to know that you are talking to Google Fiber and not an imposter:


  • No Google Fiber employee or representative will ever ask you for your credit card number. In order to protect your information, all credit card and billing information is managed by the customer through the Google Fiber online “manage my account” options within their account.

  • Google Fiber support representatives may ask you to confirm your PIN code (see the paragraphs above).

  • You will never be asked for your social security number, bank account number or any other financial information. All billing is done via credit card.

  • You will never be asked to pay for anything with cash, check or any other non-credit card methods.


Your PIN is the key to making sure your account is secure. And now that you know what to look for, we hope you’ll feel even safer online. 


(And in case you missed it last year, please check out our post on making your home WiFi network more secure, yet another way to add an extra layer of safety to your online life.)


Posted by Chris Roosenraad, Head of Security



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You may have noticed that we’re very focused on speed around here. From our beginning with 1 Gig to being one of the first ISPs with a widely accessible multi-gig product with 2 Gig two years ago, Google Fiber has always been pushing what “fast” means when it comes to internet service.


And we’re ready to do it again, because, let’s face it, fast is relative to what you need and want to do online. There will always be more to do. More files to upload and download, more games to play, more transactions to make, more movies to stream, more media to create — just … more of everything.


That’s why Google Fiber will launch 5 Gig and 8 Gig beginning in early 2023. Both products will offer symmetrical upload and download speeds (up to 5 Gig or 8 Gig respectively*) with a Wi-Fi 6 router (or you can use your own), up to two mesh extenders and professional installation, all priced for everyday use — $125/month for 5 Gig and $150/month for 8 Gig.

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We believe that customers should also have access to these fast speeds and increased bandwidth at accessible prices without contracts, data caps or installation fees, and we’re committed to making that happen.


Who needs 5 Gig and 8 Gig?


At Google Fiber, we want to make sure our customers are ready for whatever the internet throws their way. While 2 Gig answered the call for many gamers and power streamers,  5 Gig and 8 Gig are designed for even heavier internet users — creative professionals, people working in the cloud or with large data, households with large shared internet demands. People who create and utilize large files need the ability to transfer them efficiently. For those who work on the cloud or in real time, like with financial transactions, it’s helpful to know there’s less lag between pushing send and making something happen. 5 Gig and 8 Gig can help these customers take on whatever they need online and be ready for whatever is coming next. 


Google Fiber’s new 5 Gig and 8 Gig plans will answer this call. 5 Gig will make it easier to upload and download simultaneously, no matter the file size. And 8 Gig will make sure that everything you are doing online is happening in near real time (without jitter and with low latency).


While we can’t predict the future, we believe that video quality never seen before, virtual experiences that seem real to the touch, gaming as fast as you can play, (and who knows what else?) are right around the corner. This vision starts with our commitment to delivering great internet. With the help of content partners and device manufacturers, we're excited to usher in the next generation internet experience for Google Fiber customers.


So...how can I get it?


If you are a current Google Fiber customer, especially in Utah, Kansas City or West Des Moines, you could be trying out these new products as early as next month. Sign up for an opportunity to be among the first to test 5 Gig and 8 Gig in your city. We’ll follow up with eligible customers to learn a little bit more about how you plan to put all that speed to use. 


Google Fiber brought you 1 Gig in 2010, 2 Gig in 2020, and 5 and 8 Gig in 2022 (and we’re already testing 20,000 megabits in the field) … the future is fast, and it’s about to get faster.


Posted by Amalia O’Sullivan, Director of Product Management




*Upload/download speed and device streaming claims are based on maximum wired speeds. Actual internet and Wi-Fi speeds are not guaranteed and may vary based on factors such as hardware and software limitations, latency, packet loss, etc.
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Once upon a time, you could only access the internet by plugging into it; and back in the day you even had to dial in before you could log on! Wi-Fi technology has only been around since 1997. Now it’s hard to imagine a world without Wi-Fi networks around us almost everywhere. But how does it work and more importantly, how can you get the most out of your home Wi-Fi network? We get these questions a lot, but the answers can help no matter where you get internet.


Understanding bandwidth


Bandwidth is key to making the most of your internet, and it refers to the amount of content your internet can handle. Let’s use actual traffic to make this a little clearer—A three lane highway can only accommodate so many cars and trucks before it backs up and creates a traffic jam. And every car is different. There are zippy cars, slow cars, and semi trucks. Each takes up a different amount of room and drives at a different speed — but the three lane highway can’t just magically turn into a four lane highway to accommodate an overload of cars and trucks when things get too slow-moving on the three lane highway. 


Similarly, you can think of your Wi-Fi network as a highway. It has a set amount of lanes (bandwidth [measured in megabits or gigabits of upload or download speeds, depending on your plan]) and can only support a certain amount of traffic (your devices) without slowing down just like that highway traffic jam. Certain devices, like a 4K streaming TV, take up a lot of room (bandwidth) on  Wi-Fi, because it requires a lot of power to be able to download 4K video on demand (which is why you might want to hardwire devices like this). Other devices, like your Wi-Fi enabled lightbulb, don’t take up as much space on your internet connection because they don’t need much bandwidth.

 


It’s important to remember that your 1 Gig plan, 2 Gig plan, or whatever plan you have from a provider doesn’t mean each device gets the full bandwidth of your Wi-Fi connection — they all share it. So if you’ve got 41 devices running in your household like I do, you’re probably using a lot of internet. But there are things you can do to get more out of your Wi-Fi network: 


  1. Get multiple access points.


If you only have a solitary router trying to create a Wi-Fi network to cover a spacious home or apartment (or one with thick or brick walls), you’re likely to experience more interruptions over your Wi-Fi network. Setting up a mesh network that fits the size and needs of your home can speed up the internet across your home. Which is why our 1 Gig and 2 Gig plans include mesh networking capability.


For me, I wanted to be able to catch up on the news while getting ready in the morning…which meant ensuring my home network covered my bathroom seamlessly. Figure out where you need (or just want) your internet (you can get information about how your routers and extenders are working by calling our service agents or, if you are 2 Gig customer, through the Google Fiber app), and adjust your Wi-Fi network to make room for the things that are important to you. This is also something our installers help our customers do when they are doing installations.


  1. Frequencies matter


There are two different radio frequencies used by Wi-Fi. One is the 2.4 Ghz spectrum and the other is the 5.0 Ghz spectrum. Both frequencies have been in use for many years and offer a few pros and cons to keep in mind. 


The 2.4 Ghz band (the older of the two) tends to propagate to more areas, meaning it offers wider coverage than the 5.0 Ghz band. That said, while it may go further, it does so with considerably less bandwidth than 5.0 Ghz. This means 2.4 Ghz is great for devices that don’t require a lot of bandwidth, like a smart light, but less than ideal for bandwidth-intense devices like a smart TV. In fact, a modern smart TV will likely see some buffering if connected to a 2.4 Ghz network. 


5.0 Ghz is really just the inverse of 2.4 Ghz. It offers less range, but packs enough bandwidth to power most of today’s Wi-Fi devices like your laptop or smartphone. 


The good news is that most routers and devices will try to auto-connect to the appropriate frequency. That said, if you’re on the outer edges of your Wi-Fi coverage area, you may notice your device can only connect to the slower 2.4 Ghz frequency as you’re out of range of the 5.0 Ghz. 


While 2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz are the primary spectrums for Wi-Fi today, a third is beginning to hit the market as well. The latest Wi-Fi 6E enables use of the 6.0 Ghz frequency. That is unlocking even faster Wi-Fi speeds on compatible devices. 

  

  1. Take a load off


Hardwiring is always going to give you faster internet speeds (back to that 4K TV) — it’ll also take demanding devices off your Wi-Fi and in turn, will make room for your other devices. So hardwire your gaming console or ancient printer if you can. It’ll give your partner more room to have that seamless video call, and they’ll thank you for that.


Posted by Nick Saporito, Head of Commercial Strategy


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The internet has been around for quite a while now, but, like any technology, it continues to grow and evolve. In recent years, the industry has seen huge strides in both internet speed and reliability. These innovations are necessary to support the increasing complexity of online technology, including new ways of delivering the internet like fiber optics, satellite, wireless, and others.


Google Fiber’s fiber optic network allows us to stay on the cutting edge of internet technology and advancements — it’s the reason why we’re so able to quickly upgrade our networks and provide faster and more reliable service. How does it allow us to be so nimble? 


What is fiber optic internet?


In the last post of our Fast Forward series, Tom talked about how traditional cable internet was built on copper wires which was originally intended to transmit television broadcasts, whereas fiber optic internet is a series of ultra-thin glass tubes that transmits data at the speed of light. 


Part of what makes fiber optic internet unique is its ability to be quickly upgraded in order to accommodate for new technological advancements and the needs of evolving tech in everyday households. When we need to upgrade our network to accommodate increased speed, we don’t have to change the fiber lines in the ground. 


So what needs to be upgraded to make the internet faster?


While we don’t have to change out the fiber optics every time an advancement in speed is made, we do have to swap out the technology in our huts that deliver the “last mile” (i.e. the distance that connects your home or business to the central infrastructure of the internet). We house our equipment in huts and cabinets throughout each metro area. This includes tech like our Passive Optical Networks (PONs).


PONs use fiber optic lines to provide Ethernet connectivity from a main data source to endpoints, like your home network. At Google Fiber, we currently use what is referred to as a GPON in most of our huts. The GPON allows us to offer up to two gigabits download speed and up to one gigabit upload speed to our customers (the “G” in “GPON” stands for “gigabit”). When we started building our network, this was new technology.


But technology rarely stays the “latest” for long. The internet is ready to take its next step, and with that progress comes XGS-PON (x = roman numeral 10, g = gPON, s = symmetrical). Each XGS-PON can provide 64 households with up to 10 gigabit upload and download speeds (yep, symmetrical!). That means in order for us to upgrade our network speeds, we don’t have to go underground or completely rearrange our network, but we do have to switch out our GPON gear for XGS-PON in every hut (like we did in the picture below to start testing this in Kansas City).





What we’re doing now


As you can see, we’re already working behind the scenes to build a network that can stay ahead of demand, both as our speed offerings and as demand for internet bandwidth and speed increases because of new technology, more users and new devices come online. We’re constantly monitoring and planning many months ahead to predict and adapt to the changes in demand on our networks. 


When a lot of people were working, going to school, and doing everything else over the internet from home during the height of the pandemic, internet services needed to adjust. Because we actively monitor our networks for these types of changes (rather than only reacting when things go bad), we actively adjusted our network to meet the new demand of users before you even knew you needed it (read more about that here).


And we’re continuing that proactive approach, even as the world gets “back to the new normal.” Our newest cities are being built with the ability to accommodate the ever increasing speed demands, and we’re updating our networks in all our cities to be able to accelerate as technology continues to evolve. We’re proud to build our networks with the future in mind and a team dedicated to improving our customers’ experience every day.


Posted by Scott Li, Network Engineering Manager,  and Jennifer Poscic, Network Acquisition & Service Delivery Manager

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Many view the internet as a nebulous cloud.  For the most part, it's invisible yet it enables us to do things that even just ten years ago we never would have dreamed of doing  (like VR in your own home, for example). At Google Fiber, we think the internet is pretty magical too — but we also know all the intricacies that it takes to make that magic happen. Though it’s often said a magician should never reveal their secrets, this is one (or a few) we’re happy to share.


Not all internet is created equal


There’s more than one way to get internet in your home or business — and not all internet is created the same. Traditional cable internet was built on copper wires that, by initial intent, was designed to bring you television. From the start Google Fiber was designed to bring you Internet - fiber optic Internet. Fiber internet is a series of ultra-thin glass tubes that transmit data at the speed of light. One of the benefits of fiber is that the material withstands the challenges of time, distance and natural elements, and it can be upgraded (higher speeds) quickly by changing the optical equipment at the end points.  In addition, Fiber is not as reliant on commercial power to keep signals moving through the plant nor as susceptible to commercial power outages taking down whole parts of the plant.


But not all fiber internet is built the same. What makes Google Fiber different from other fiber internet providers lies not in the types of fiber we use, but in the way we design our core network and the operational disciplines we use that focus on the Customer Experience.


First, we design a core backbone architecture (think city to city) that has multiple layers of redundancy to provide a high level of network reliability.  Keep reading for more details on how this works.


Understanding network redundancy

Reliability is a major consideration in what Google Fiber customers look for in their internet.  Google Fiber’s network offers 99.9%* reliable connection, which is in large part due to the way our backbone network is built and managed.  Our core backbone network is designed with multiple layers of resiliency.  This makes it a lot more likely that you’ll stay online, even if there is a failure or event in the backbone of the network. Making sure you stay connected is at the core of what we do.


Content delivery -  peer-to-peer and localized caching

Another way that we ensure our Customers get the speed and content they need is by large scale peering and localized caching within our network.  We peer directly with largest media and content providers (in fact, we’ll peer with anyone who is willing to peer with us, and we don’t use peering for revenue generation); this allows us to obtain and deliver content very quickly.  Minimizing latency is just as important as network reliability in our book.  In addition, our localized caching (storage) allows us to store popular content close to your home, so when you request a show or movie, you’re able to watch it in the highest quality without buffering or delays. 


Finally (and perhaps most important) are our Operational disciplines

At Google Fiber, we place the utmost importance on Customer Experience.  Changes, upgrades or expansion of the network are done with the Customer Experience at the forefront of our decision making process.  All proposed changes are pre validated in our labs.  Once those changes / improvements are readied for production, strict protocols are followed to ensure we protect the reliability of the network and most importantly, the Customer Experience.  We have a highly disciplined change management process and we continually measure, study and improve to drive higher reliability.


So no, the internet is not actually magic. In reality, it’s a bunch of people working together behind the scenes to create the technology combined with the operational disciplines needed to maintain the top performance and reliability. But at the end of the day, if your internet is working the way it should, it should feel magical. 


Posted by Thomas Feilmeier, Director of Network Engineering & Operations



*Google Fiber’s 99.9% reliable connectivity means our network stays online 99.9% of the time, even when accounting for power outages, line issues, and maintenance. Plus, if you have backup power for your equipment, you may be able to access our network even when you are in the dark.
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