Whether you need fast broadband for a smart home or hard-core gaming, choosing the right provider — and the right type of internet — is crucial. The most advanced technologies in the connectivity field include satellite and fiber internet. Neither is a new or revolutionary concept, but they are both rather scarce. Project Kuiper plans to change that as far as satellite internet is concerned. Google Fiber only covers a few metropolitan areas, but it delivers a fast and reliable connection. Knowing how Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Google Fiber compares might help you pick the right one.
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Google Fiber: Side-By-Side Comparison
|Amazon’s Kuiper||Google Fiber|
|Founder||Jeff Bezos||Larry Page and Sergey Brin|
|Service type||Satellite internet||Fiber internet|
|Number of satellites in orbit||None. Launch planned for 2024||None owned by Google|
|Coverage||Global (presumably)||26 metropolitan areas within the USA|
|Internet speed||Not in service yet||Up to 2Gbps|
|Cost||Not in service yet||$70 to $100 per month|
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Google Fiber: What’s the Difference?
The first thing people compare when choosing home internet is the download speed. However, the first thing you should check is whether it is available in your area. Fiber internet, such as the one from Google Fiber, is the fastest type of connectivity available. However, fiber optic networks are not exactly widespread. Installation challenges make it impossible to bring this technology to locations with difficult terrain. Remote locations generally don’t benefit from fiber internet either.
A more widespread technology is cable internet. This type of connectivity uses copper cables or telephone wires, so availability is superior to fiber. However, there are still plenty of unserved or underserved places. This is where satellite internet steps in. Working much like satellite TV, this type of technology requires the use of a receiver to translate the radio signals received from satellites into a working internet connection.
However, not all satellites were created equal — or, more specifically, not all of them reside at the same distance from the Earth. Geostationary satellites, such as those of Viasat, reside in the geostationary orbit, which is around 22,000 miles above Earth. Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites stand about 367 to 392 miles above Earth. Currently, Starlink provides internet via LEO satellites. Amazon’s Kuiper satellites plan to join Starlink’s by 2026. The common aim is to provide fast and “affordable” satellite internet to unserved and underserved areas around the globe. However, if you live in a metropolitan area served by Google Fiber, is Project Kuiper worth the wait? This head-to-head might help you decide.
The main difference between Amazon’s Kuiper and Google Fiber is the type of technology they use. Project Kuiper is a satellite internet provider. The service is not yet functional — the satellites aren’t even in orbit yet. However, its purpose is to bridge the connectivity gap currently existing between metropolitan areas and rural or remote zones.
To do that, Amazon will launch its satellites into the Low-Earth Orbit. The shorter distance compared to geostationary satellites promises faster speeds and lower latency. If everything goes according to plan, Amazon’s Kuiper could provide internet at download speeds over 400Mbps. This would be revolutionary for satellite internet.
However, to reach these speeds, customers have to use a proprietary receiver that captures radio waves more efficiently than the current dishes used by Starlink, Viasat, and other similar services. The cost of terminals will allegedly be affordable, according to Amazon, but you can still expect to spend hundreds of dollars upfront. If this could be seen as a worthy investment in the developed world, the price could be prohibitive for people in underdeveloped countries.
Google Fiber, as its name suggests, is fiber internet. The tech giant uses fiber optic cables to deliver lightning-fast internet to customers in the served areas. This is possible thanks to fiber optic technology. These cables work by transmitting light impulses across very thin fibers of glass. Since nothing travels faster than light, the fiber internet’s speed is hard to match.
Talking about speed, Amazon’s Kuiper promises between 400Mbps and 1Gbps (GIG). Beyond the improved design of terminals, it is yet unclear how the tech giant plans to deliver on those claims. To put things into perspective, Starlink promises download speeds around 350Mbps (higher for some plans), but tests show that the median download speed that users receive is much lower. Depending on location and terminal installation, the speeds actually vary from 60 to 115.22Mbps — about the same or lower than standard cable internet and a lot slower than fiber optic.
For its part, Google Fiber promises and delivers fast internet. Two bundles allow you to choose between 1Gbps and 2Gbps. The former is ideal for whole homes, as Google Fiber comes with powerful Wi-Fi routers that ensure reliable connectivity in all rooms. The latter is ideal for tech-savvy homes that need the internet for more than smartphones and computers. Sure, there are lots of things that can affect download speeds, and these sometimes tend to drop. However, the median speed tested under demanding conditions still remains somewhere between 360Mbps and 485Mbps. That’s fast enough to ensure reliable gaming while streaming Netflix on another terminal, for instance.
Fiber optics’ speed might be unparalleled, but its availability is nowhere near satisfactory. Google Fiber only covers part of America. At the moment, it is available in 26 metropolitan areas and slowly expanding. If you live elsewhere, and especially in rural or remote zones, you can only dream about Google Fiber while enjoying the internet from another provider. The situation is similar to that of DIRECTV, but you can check availability directly on Google Fiber’s website.
At the moment, Amazon’s Kuiper is not available anywhere. While the first Kuiper satellites should have been in orbit, delays pushed forward the timelines. Currently, Amazon estimates the launch of the first satellites in the first half of 2024. The service will then get tested, and if everything goes well, the other satellites will join the orbit and provide internet across the world.
While we can’t say for sure where you’ll be able to get broadband from Amazon, Starlink can give us an indication. Elon Musk’s satellite broadband is operational in over 36 countries and six continents. While Google Fiber might expand its network, Amazon’s Kuiper will likely reach global coverage faster.
Another thing to consider when choosing an internet provider is service reliability. Google Fiber and Amazon Kuiper both promise a stable, reliable connection. However, Google has the upper hand thanks to its fiber optic cable network.
Unlike copper and telephone cables, which often run above the ground, fiber optic cables run underground. They are not affected by adverse weather, and very few natural elements can damage them. When running under bodies of water, they might get damaged by anchors or fishing trawlers. However, these occurrences are rare. What it actually means for consumers is a reliable internet connection in all weathers. Even when the Wi-Fi router is affected by an electrical blackout, you can still use an Ethernet cable to connect your computer to the internet.
Kuiper doesn’t have these advantages. Satellite internet relies on radio waves to transmit the signal to receivers placed on your roof or in the backyard. Bad weather can interfere with radio transmission, causing disruptions in the service. This is similar to satellite TV when the television starts losing signal during storms or heavy snow.
Moreover, water droplets in the air can also absorb some of the radio waves, weakening the signal on cloudy or rainy days. Sure, a bit of rain or some fog won’t generally affect connectivity, but it might slow down the download and upload speeds. Strong winds can also affect the reception of signals. If they are too strong and move the dish, you might end up with slow or no internet.
Google Fiber also has an advantage in terms of costs. While the service could seem more expensive compared to other providers, you should consider the speed. In general, bundles for speeds up to 2Gbps can cost up to $180. By comparison, Google Fiber is affordable. The 1GIG bundle costs $70 per month, while the 2GIG one is $100 per month. These prices don’t include fees and taxes, but you might get $30 off your bill through the Affordable Connectivity Program.
Amazon hasn’t yet disclosed any broadband prices. Considering Starlink’s monthly subscription is $75, we can expect similar costs. However, you’ll have to add up the cost of the terminal and installation. Again, Amazon hasn’t provided a definitive number, but it claims the terminal will cost less than $400. Yet, this is just the receiver. You’ll also need a router and will likely have to pay for professional installation, too.
Google Fiber doesn’t come with any equipment fees. Both plans benefit from free installation and a Mesh Wi-Fi network included. This means that you won’t have to purchase a separate router. The 2GIG bundle includes a Mesh Wi-Fi 6 capable of bringing the internet to all the rooms in your home. At the same time, the terminal is powerful enough to ensure reliable connectivity of all smart home devices, in addition to smartphones and computers.
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Google Fiber: 6 Must-Know Facts
- Amazon’s Kuiper is a satellite broadband service in the making. Jeff Bezos plans to launch the first satellites in the first half of 2024.
- Google Fiber is the tech giant’s fiber internet service, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Access division. It provides fiber-to-premises internet in the United States.
- While Google Fiber is slowly expanding, it is yet uncertain whether its services will be made available to customers in other countries. Amazon’s Kuiper aims to provide global coverage and bring connectivity to remote, underserved areas.
- In total, Project Kuiper will launch 3,236 satellites between 2024 and 2026. The new constellation will join Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites in the Low-Earth Orbit.
- Google Fiber is a reliable and affordable service. Fast broadband speeds make it perfect for tech-savvy users and smart homes.
- Amazon Kuiper promises high speeds, but it is too early to tell whether it will deliver on that promise.
Amazon’s Kuiper vs. Google Fiber: Which One Is Better? Which One Should You Use?
Deciding between satellite and fiber internet usually comes down to availability. If Google Fiber is available in your area, it is the most reliable choice. It might be the most affordable, too, especially if you can’t or don’t want to pay huge fees upfront. Amazon’s Kuiper will be a better choice if you live in a remote or underserved area. In such a zone, satellite internet might be more readily available than cable and fiber options. Perhaps you won’t get jaw-dropping download speeds, and you might have to put up with some atmospheric interferences, but that’s a small price to pay to get connectivity in the middle of nowhere.
However, if you need internet right now, Google Fiber is your only option. In underserved areas, you might want to opt for satellite internet from another provider, such as Starlink or Viasat. However, the former doesn’t cover all of the United States of America — at least not yet — while the latter is expensive. Perhaps the best choice, if you can’t get Google Fiber, is to opt for a cable or fiber internet provider in your area.
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