Huntsville (Alabama) — aka Rocket City — is truly a place on the rise. Nationally known for its strong science and technology presence, Huntsville is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and quickly becoming a destination for diverse, creative and entrepreneurial minds. We are proud to announce Google Fiber is officially lifting off in Rocket City. As of this morning, customers in North Huntsville can sign up for Google Fiber’s superfast Internet, TV and phone service. Residents and small business owners in this part of the city now have access to Google Fiber’s superfast Internet. We’re excited to bring our service to more and more Huntsvillians, so be sure to sign up at fiber.google.com/cities/huntsville to be among the first to receive updates and future announcements. Residents in North Huntsville can now sign up for the Fiber 1000 + TV, Fiber 1000, Fiber 100 or Fiber 100 + TV. Customers can also add a Fiber Phone to any of these packages, providing a great voice experience with all of the features of Google Voice, including very low international calling rates.
Through a variety of efforts, including programs focused on science, math, engineering and digital literacy, we’ve experienced amazing progress toward digital equity. Together with our local partners, we’ve seen:
- Over 1 million people reached through the work of Digital Inclusion Fellows
- 206,000 Children and families served by STEM-focused programs supported by Google Fiber
- 115,000 Hours of digital literacy training
- More than 1,910 Families living in public housing with access to no-cost Gigabit Internet
- Over 200 Nonprofit partners and community organizations with free Gigabit Internet through our Community Connections program
Since we launched Google Fiber in Nashville (TN) a few months back, we have been humbled by the overwhelming support from local residents, businesses and property owners. We have also been hearing loud and clear that consumers want a choice when it comes to super-fast Internet. Today Americans have little, if any, choice. The most recent Federal Communications Commission stats show 78% of census blocks have access to only one Internet provider offering speeds of 25 Mbps or more — the minimum speed to be considered “broadband”— while 30% have no broadband access. So what’s taking so long in Nashville? We have — like many of you — been disheartened by the incredibly slow progress. A big contributor to these delays is the “make ready” process required to attach a new line to a utility pole. Under this current system, each existing provider on the pole needs to send out a separate crew, one by one, to move its own line and make room for a new one. This may have worked a generation ago when there were only one or two attachers, but it’s extremely time consuming — not to mention disruptive to residents of Nashville — to do this with the numerous attachers we have today.
We’ve always believed that small businesses can do big things with superfast Internet. In 2014, we launched our Early Access program to bring faster speeds to businesses in our Fiber cities. Since then, we’ve been inspired by what these businesses have been able to do. From a media company that now conducts virtual jam sessions to a coffee house that livestreams their community events, we’ve seen many unlock new possibilities with a speedy, reliable connection. At the same time, we know that businesses come in different shapes and sizes. They have varying needs and would like the flexibility to choose a plan that best fits their needs.
That’s why we’re transitioning from the Early Access program and introducing three new plans. Small businesses in all of our Fiber cities will now be able to pick from speeds ranging from 100 Mbps to 1000 Mbps. We’ve also increased the number of static IP addresses available to a business—up to 13. And we continue to be committed to providing fast, reliable service tailored to the needs of small businesses.
[Commentary] Although the recent debate around government surveillance has focused on the reach of the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), we have long supported efforts to update the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) so that the government must obtain a warrant to require a provider to disclose content stored with the provider.
The ongoing campaign to update ECPA has reached a significant milestone. For the first time, a majority of Members in the US House of Representatives have gone on record to support bipartisan legislation (H.R. 1852) sponsored by Representatives Yoder (R-KS), Graves (R-GA), and Polis (D-CO) that would create a bright-line, warrant-for-content rule for electronic communications.
This common-sense reform is long overdue. While well-intentioned when enacted in 1986, ECPA no longer reflects users’ reasonable expectations of privacy. For example, an email may receive more robust privacy protections under ECPA depending on how old it is, whether it has been opened, and where it is stored -- while users attach no importance to these distinctions. The Department of Justice itself has acknowledged that there is no principled reason for this rule.
Congress should send a clear message about the limits of government surveillance by enacting legislation that would create a bright-line, warrant-for-content standard. Now that a majority has gone on record to support this common sense update, we once again urge Congress to expeditiously pass legislation to update ECPA.
We’ve all had the moment where we scratch our heads and ask, “why is this video so slow?” Unfortunately, there’s no single answer to this question.
Your video ‘packets’ of online bits and bytes have to travel a really long way, along several different networks, just to get to you, and they could be slowed down anywhere.
So, because we know you want to stream videos and browse effortlessly, we’ve designed our network to minimize buffering. Bringing fiber all the way to your home is only one piece of the puzzle. We also partner with content providers (like YouTube, Netflix, and Akamai) to make the rest of your video’s journey shorter and faster. (This doesn't involve any deals to prioritize their video ‘packets’ over others or otherwise discriminate among Internet traffic -- we don't do that.)
So that your video doesn’t get caught up in this possible congestion, we invite content providers to hook up their networks directly to ours. This is called ‘peering,’ and it gives you a more direct connection to the content that you want.
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, we’re announcing a preview of Classroom, a new, free tool in the Google Apps for Education suite. It helps teachers create and organize assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently, and communicate with their classes with ease.
Classroom is based on the principle that educational tools should be simple and easy to use, and is designed to give teachers more time to teach and students more time to learn. With Classroom, you'll be able to:
- Create and collect assignments: Classroom weaves together Google Docs, Drive and Gmail to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly. They can quickly see who has or hasn't completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback to individual students.
- Improve class communications: Teachers can make announcements, ask questions and comment with students in real time -- improving communication inside and outside of class.
- Stay organized: Classroom automatically creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student. Students can easily see what’s due on their Assignments page.
[Yeskel is Product Manager, Classroom at Google]