“When I got the call [selecting his shop], I thought they were selling me ads” Valverde told me. But instead they choose his coffee shop as a place to showcase the power and speed of Google Fiber. He couldn’t tell his employees, though they suspected something was up with “all these people tinkering.” Now the shop has Google Fiber as well two Google-provided Chromebooks for customer use.
Google rarely does anything randomly, and Mud Pie is within a block of the University of Kansas Medical Center. Google constantly refers to telemedicine as a key feature of what Google Fiber can do, so picking a demo location near the Med Center allows both staff and patients to test out the service.
Testing Google Fiber.
I tested Google Fiber over Wi-Fi and over the wired connection. Obviously the limitations of Wi-Fi’s 802.11n, which can’t handle gigabit speeds, doesn’t allow the full performance of the network to be realized. For a subjective test, I streamed the Olympics in HD over Wi-Fi. The HD video was simply gorgeous, but there were hiccups. I did notice that as someone was watching a movie on one of the Chromebooks, the picture got more glitchy. But that could also be limitations of the Wi-Fi.
As an objective test I downloaded Apple’s MacOS 10.7.4 combo update over both Wi-Fi and the wired connection. Over the wired connection, the 1.4-gigabyte file downloaded in five minutes and four seconds. A test from Speedtest.net not yet optimized for Google Fiber still showed impressive results. Over Wi-Fi from my Macbook, the file downloaded in 15 minutes and 21 seconds. Another Speedtest.net showed the limits of the Wi-Fi.
The slower speed over Wi-Fi was to be expected, but with the full wired connection I would have expected the file to download in less than a minute. For comparison, I downloaded the 1.4 GB 10.7.4 updater off my AT&T Uverse connection and the download took 14 minutes and 50 seconds. As a longer wired test, I downloaded the entire Lion installer from the Mac App store and the 4.18-GB file downloaded in 41 minutes and 24 seconds. Again, not impressive speeds.
These tests show one of the limitations of Google’s Fiber network, other services. Since Google Fiber is providing virtually unheard of speeds for their subscribers, companies like Apple and I suspect Hulu, Netflix and Amazon will need to keep up. I downloaded a few (legal) torrents and while it’s hard to compare torrents at any given moment, a popular file downloaded at extremely high speeds. For example, a 134.4-megabyte file downloaded in about 11 seconds. Subscribers will pay for high-speed internet but may not notice the difference when compared with friends with top-tier broadband.