Google Fiber Is Killing Its Free Internet in Kansas City

Illustration for article titled Google Fiber Is Killing Its Free Internet in Kansas City

When Google Fiber first popped up in Kansas City, it was the $70-a-month gigabit internet package that grabbed headlines, not the 5Mbps tier that Fiber also offered for free. Hopefully, anyone who wanted free internet got on board, because Google is now discontinuing the program.

Recode first noticed the changes: if you’re a new customer trying to sign up for Fiber through Google’s website, the cheapest tier is now 100Mbps for $50. Existing customers who opted for the free tier will continue to receive service, and anyone who is really desperate can contact Google until May 19th to sign up.

Google hasn’t disclosed the reasons behind the changes, but there’s a few good guesses about motivation. The old free plan required a $300 installation fee in order to access, which is likely prohibitive for people on lower incomes, or just individuals who move a lot. The new $50-a-month tier has no installation costs with a one-year plan, which should be more appealing to those short on cash.


Installation costs aside however, free Fiber was a great option for people who needed cheap, simple internet access. Google’s hoping that its plans to roll out free gigabit internet to public housing projects—and long term, things like Project Loon—will fill those gaps.


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One thing to note - that 5Mbps tier no longer qualifies as "broadband" under the FCC's definition (now needs to be 25Mbps and up). So, Google has a harder time claiming they're providing free broadband.