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Google Says No More Free Internet for You, Kansas City

Google Begins Installing Ultrafast Broadband NetworkGoogle Begins Installing Ultrafast Broadband Network
Boxes of equipment needed to install Google Fiber broadband network.Photograph by Bloomberg via Getty Images

When Google Fiber, the ultra-fast Internet service from Google parent company Alphabet launched in Kansas City back in 2012, residents had a few pricing options.

They could pay $70 a month for a one-gigabit Internet connection, $130 for Internet and TV, or, they could opt to go for a half-speed connection and forego their monthly Internet service fee completely. It was basically free monthly Internet (after a $300 installation fee.)

Now, Google’s telling the freeloaders it’s time to pay up.

In a shift, Google (GOOG) is starting to charge $50 for its most basic Fiber offering in Kansas City. About 100 low-income households who recently received free Google Fiber access in the city won’t be affected by the price change, though.

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Fiber service is roughly 2-5 times faster than a typical home broadband connection. And in the cities where it’s available, the high-speed offering has ignited some serious competition from old-school Internet providers. In Kansas City, Fiber sparked both AT&T and Time Warner to increase their own Internet speeds and drop some of their prices to match Fiber’s.

Since the Kansas City launch, Google Fiber has also expanded to cover three other cities around the country: Atlanta, Austin, and Provo, Utah (in Austin and Provo the free basic Internet service option is still available after customers pay the installation fee). And Fiber has plans to expand into seven more cities around the country, including San Francisco.

Google Fiber Takes On AT&T, Time Warner:

Current Fiber freeloaders in Kansas City can keep their free monthly Internet until their seven-year agreements are up, a Google spokesperson says. After that, they’ll have to start shelling out again if they want to keep on googling.

 

Correction (Apr. 11 1:48 pm E.T.): An earlier version of this story cited Re/code reporting the free Fiber Internet service will be unavailable in Kansas City starting May 19. The free service will continue for current subscribers until the end of their seven-year contracts.