RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Google Fiber is preparing to launch internet access that’s double the fastest commercial service now available – 20 gigabits per second, enough experts say to sharply reduce delays (or latency) that pause or slow videos and gaming similar to what streaming customers tend to see at home.
The Triangle and Charlotte areas will have the new service “by the end of 2023,” a Google Fiber spokesperson says.
In other words, the metaverse will get more real and people working from home will be able to download and upload huge data files such as video.
GFiber, as Google Fiber is now called, will begin taking reservations for the new service as well as an upgraded Wi-Fi service “later this year,” a spokesperson says. The so-called Wi-Fi 7 means faster access for wireless devices and home networks, Internet thought leaders tell WRAL TechWire.
“Customers interested in potentially receiving 20 Gig with Wi-Fi 7 will be able to sign up by filling out a form on the GFiber Labs website” a spokesperson says. No pricing information was disclosed. A 5 gigabit offering is priced at $125.
GFiber announced the technology advances at the Network X event in Paris where it says 20 gigabit service will be available by the end of the year.
The fastest internet service currently available is 10 gigabits from broadband fiber provider Ziply, according to CableTV.com.
“20 Gig with Wi-Fi 7 will bring together the most advanced technologies to offer customers a first-of-its-kind in-home internet experience,” says Nick Saporito, Head of Product at GFiber.
“Additionally, by offering this service with a custom pre-certification Wi-Fi 7 router (another first ever — in fact, Wi-Fi 7 is not even fully certified yet), 20 gig customers will be able to truly harness all that speed for whatever they dream up. With GFiber Labs, we’re working to get the newest technologies into customers homes even more quickly.”
GFiber right now is provided speeds up to 8 gigabits in its North Carolina markets, including the Triangle and Charlotte.
So what does 20 gigabit speed really mean?
“Increasing capacity to 20G will help games and other applications that are latency (delay) sensitive,” says Mark Johnson, a top broadband executive with roles at the UNC System, the state of North Carolina and statewide fiber provider MCNC. “Their release doesn’t say that this new service will be symmetrical but GFiber has been so far. With that assumption it will be especially attractive to people like my independent videographer friend who has to upload very large files after editing.”
Tom Snyder, executive director of the Raleigh-based RIoT (internet of things) organization, also sees benefits to the new speeds.
“Prior fiber networks capped out around 10 gig, but new technology theoretically can reach 50 gig, so the 20 gig service is impressive and at least twice what was available before,” Snyder says.
Bottom line: Virtual reality becomes more real.
“The Google Fiber announcement is cool and demonstrates the continued improvements in wireless and fiber technology.,” he tells WRAL TechWire. “In terms of real-world impact, for residential users I don’t expect much. There are few, if any, applications that actually require a data pipe this wide. But history shows that once the capability is in place, applications to use that bandwidth will emerge.
“Low latency, metaverse-style immersive graphics rendering and real-time, high resolution holographic content are examples that could benefit,” he adds. But Snyder notes: “For basic applications like movie streaming and Zoom meetings, what Google Fiber already offers is sufficient.”
What about Wi-Fi 7?
The new Wi-Fi upgrade also has benefits.
“Wi-Fi-7 offers the potential of much greater speeds for wireless devices and better performance when many devices are active in the home but, to take full advantage your devices will need to support Wi-Fi-7 and few do today,” Johnson explains.
“Very small home automation devices like smart bulbs, smart plugs, etc and embedded devices like your smart washing machine are not likely to ever take advantage of Wi-Fi-7. As phones and laptops are replaced with newer models they will benefit.”
Snyder also adds notes of caution.
“Wi-Fi 7 is still developing, so I’m a bit skeptical about the release of routers that may or may not align to the final standard,” he says. “But if you look at the evolution of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 7 should continue to enable increased speeds, lower latency and improved penetration of walls and other coverage barriers.”