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Google Fiber‘s 5 Gig and 8 Gig Plans Are Launching Next Year: Here‘s What You Need to Know

Get ready for a quantum leap in home internet speeds. Google Fiber, the Alphabet-owned ISP known for its gigabit service, is rolling out 5 Gig and 8 Gig residential plans in early 2023. As a tech enthusiast and long-time Google Fiber user, I couldn‘t be more excited. Let‘s dive into the details of this groundbreaking announcement and what it means for the future of connectivity.

The Current State of Gigabit Internet

To appreciate just how revolutionary 5 Gig and 8 Gig speeds are, it‘s helpful to look at where we stand today. According to the FCC‘s 2021 Broadband Deployment Report, only 43.5% of US households have access to gigabit (1 Gbps) download speeds. And a mere 3.4% can get multi-gigabit service over 2 Gbps.

Google Fiber has been a leader in pushing gigabit speeds to the mainstream since its launch in 2012. They currently offer two plans in 19 metro areas:

Plan Download Speed Upload Speed Price
1 Gig 1 Gbps 1 Gbps $70/mo
2 Gig 2 Gbps 1 Gbps $100/mo

Both tiers come with a Wi-Fi 6 router, mesh extender, and professional installation at no extra cost. In my experience as a 1 Gig subscriber for several years, the service has been incredibly reliable with actual speeds consistently matching the advertised maximums.

5 Gig and 8 Gig: Speed Demon Dreams Come True

But apparently gigabit internet is just the beginning for Google Fiber. In fall 2022, the company announced plans to start delivering symmetrical 5 Gig and 8 Gig speeds to homes in early 2023.

To put that in perspective, here‘s how long it would take to download a 100GB file (about the size of a 4K video game) at various speeds:

Connection Download Time
1 Gig 13 minutes
2 Gig 7 minutes
5 Gig 3 minutes
8 Gig 1.6 minutes

The 5 Gig plan will cost $125 per month, while 8 Gig will run $150/mo. That‘s definitely a premium price, but you get an astonishing amount of bandwidth for the money. Goldman Sachs estimates that just 1-2% of US households would be willing to pay over $100/mo for broadband. But for power users, content creators, and early adopters who want the absolute fastest speeds money can buy, Google Fiber‘s new multi-gig offerings are very compelling.

So what exactly can you do with a 5 Gbps or 8 Gbps pipe to your home? Quite a lot, as it turns out:

  • Stream multiple 4K or even 8K HDR videos simultaneously
  • Download huge files like movies and games in seconds
  • Livestream to platforms like Twitch and YouTube in ultra high quality
  • Back up your entire photo/video collection to the cloud in minutes
  • Experience immersive VR and AR without lag or compression
  • Host a high-traffic website, app, or game server from home
  • Transfer massive datasets for scientific/research projects
  • Connect dozens of devices without impacting performance

The possibilities are endless. We‘re entering an era where your home internet connection is faster than what many businesses and data centers had just a few years ago. It‘s legitimately a paradigm shift in residential broadband.

The Technology Behind Multi-Gigabit Internet

To achieve speeds of 5 Gbps and beyond, ISPs need to deploy state-of-the-art fiber optic networks and equipment. This is typically done via Fiber To The Home (FTTH) or Fiber To The Premises (FTTP) architectures. A strand of optical fiber, thinner than a human hair, is run from a central hub directly to each household. Fiber transmits data using pulses of light, allowing it to achieve much higher speeds and lower latency over longer distances compared to copper or coaxial cables.

Google Fiber has spent over a decade building out their fiber networks, at great effort and expense. Running fiber through neighborhoods requires getting permits, digging trenches, stringing cables on utility polls, and installing special terminals at each home. It‘s a massive infrastructure project. Industry estimates put the average cost per household at $500-$1000.

But Google is deeply invested in FTTH, viewing abundant bandwidth as essential to its core businesses like search, YouTube, and cloud services. As a highly profitable tech giant and subsidiary of Alphabet, Google Fiber‘s financial resources and technical expertise put it in a unique position to deliver next-gen speeds to consumers.

To actually take advantage of 5 Gig or 8 Gig service, subscribers will need:

  • A new "fiber jack" optical network terminal (ONT) device
  • A Google Fiber Multi-Gig Router with 10 Gig Ethernet ports
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E devices that can handle gigabit+ wireless speeds
  • Wired devices with 10 Gig Ethernet for maximum throughput

Google will provide the necessary equipment (at those price points, I should hope so) and handle the installation and setup. It‘s a complex process that requires specialized tools and knowledge. Making all the pieces work together seamlessly is as much an art as a science.

The State of Multi-Gigabit Internet Worldwide

So how does Google Fiber‘s 5 Gig and 8 Gig announcement stack up to other broadband providers across the globe? Gigabit-class fiber services are becoming more common, but residential speeds exceeding 2-3 Gbps are still very rare.

A few notable examples of multi-gig offerings:

According to Speedtest.net, as of November 2022 the countries with the fastest average fixed broadband speeds are:

  1. Singapore (221 Mbps)
  2. Chile (216 Mbps)
  3. China (210 Mbps)
  4. Hong Kong (203 Mbps)
  5. United States (190 Mbps)
  6. Thailand (189 Mbps)
  7. Canada (184 Mbps)
  8. Romania (179 Mbps)
  9. South Korea (178 Mbps)
  10. Denmark (177 Mbps)

The US ranks 5th globally in median download speed. But there‘s a wide disparity in speeds between different cities and ISPs. Google Fiber‘s upcoming 5 Gig and 8 Gig services will vault its subscribers to the very top tier of bandwidth haves, both nationally and worldwide. They‘ll experience internet performance 25-40x faster than the US average.

Looking Ahead to 10G and Beyond

As wild as 5-8 Gbps internet sounds today, the telecom industry is already planning for even higher speed 10G connections in the near future. The 10G Platform is a cable/fiber initiative aiming to deliver 10 gigabit speeds, <1ms latency, improved security and reliability to homes within the next few years. Field trials are already underway.

On the wireless side, 5G networks are slowly making gigabit+ speeds a reality for mobile devices. mmWave 5G can theoretically hit 10 Gbps downloads in ideal conditions. Though practical implementations so far top out around 1-4 Gbps, and coverage is extremely limited.

Further out, technologies like hollow-core fiber, adaptive beam forming, and terahertz frequency bands could take us into the realm of Terabit internet. A 1 Tbps connection would let you download the entire 4K Netflix library in a few seconds. Researchers have demonstrated 10 Tbps speeds under lab conditions.

Of course, building the infrastructure to deliver those blistering fast speeds ubiquitously will be a long and costly undertaking. But if the past few decades are any indication, bandwidth and computing power tend to increase exponentially while costs decrease over time. In 10-20 years, we may look back on Google Fiber‘s 5 Gig and 8 Gig service as an inflection point that ushered in a new era of ultra high speed connectivity.

Final Thoughts

Google Fiber‘s impending launch of 5 Gig and 8 Gig plans marks an exciting milestone in the quest for ever-faster home broadband. While these bleeding edge speeds will initially be a niche product for early adopters, they open up a world of possibilities and set a new bar for ISPs to match.

As more bandwidth-intensive applications like 8K video, VR/AR, cloud gaming, and volumetric video become mainstream, having a multi-gigabit connection will be a huge advantage. It‘s not hard to imagine a future where ultra high def screens cover our walls, holograms pop out of our devices, and immersive digital experiences blend seamlessly with the physical world. Abundant, lightning-quick, low-latency connectivity is the foundation that will bring that sci-fi vision to life.

Google Fiber is planting a flag in the ground and staking its claim as the speed leader in the broadband arms race. They‘re letting consumers experience the future of internet performance, if only in a few dozen cities to start. The challenge for competitors and policymakers will be how to make those multi-gig speeds accessible and affordable for all. Because everyone deserves access to fast, reliable broadband in our increasingly digital world.

So if you‘re lucky enough to live in a Google Fiber market next year, consider taking the 5 Gig or 8 Gig plunge. Let us know how living on the bleeding edge feels. In the meantime, I‘ll be over here looking up real estate and daydreaming about downloads that feel more like an F1 racecar than a horse and buggy. The multi-gig era is almost here.