Visiting the Google Fiber Space in Kansas City

Yesterday was opening day for Google’s new Fiber Space located in Kansas City (1814 Westport Road).  I’ve been really excited about this project since it was announced so I decided to go down and check it out.

The Fiber Space is basically a big demo area for Google Fiber where you can test out their super fast 1Gbps internet, and digital TV services.  There are also several Google employees available to answer questions and explain the new service.

The Fiber Space is open to the public daily from 12-8PM and Saturdays from 10AM-8PM.  Reservations are not required but it’s highly recommended to ensure you’ll be able to get inside.  You can check availability and make reservations on the Google Fiber website.

When I first arrived at the Fiber Space I was greeted by a Google employee who collected my reservation confirmation and directed me towards the waiting area.

There were about 25 people waiting in line when I arrived.  The waiting area is located inside an air conditioned building just across the small parking lot from the Fiber Space.   If it looks familiar that’s because this is where the live announcement was made last Thursday.

I didn’t have to wait very long before I was allowed to go inside the Fiber Space, only about 10-15 minutes.  While you wait you can chat with the Google team members or watch some of the videos they have playing.

When I first entered the Fiber Space I was greeted by several employees in the welcome area.  The staff is very willing to try and answer any questions you may have as best as they can.

In the first part of the exhibit I was able to check out the hardware behind the new service.  The network box, storage box, and tv box are all on display to check out and ask questions about.  The boxes were a lot smaller in size than I expected, the TV box is the smallest of the three.

Google also has the broadband bunny on display alongside the car race track that was used in the opening portion of the announcement video.  Some guy was trying to fix it when I was walking by, apparently something went wrong with the cars.

The next part of the Fiber Space contains several TV’s where you can demo the new Google TV service that runs over the fiber network.  Google also has some Cisco video cameras connected to a couple of the TVs to run live video conferences over their fiber network.

The quality of the video on the TV was excellent, I was impressed with how quick it is to change channels.  The Nexus 7 tablet which acts as your remote can also be used to stream videos!  While someone is using the Nexus for streaming you can use the standard remote that comes with the system.  The storage box includes 2TB of storage, combined with a DVR that can record 8 shows at once.

Through the space there are several Chromebooks available for testing out the high speed internet service.  Some of them were using a wireless connection but there are several that do have a hard wired gigabit ethernet connection to demonstrate the true speed of the connection.

I ran a speed test during my visit and the results are truely amazing!

I stopped in at the recharge area while I was there to get a free drink and a snack.  Food and drinks are provided by the Mud Pie Vegan Bakery and Coffeehouse.  Google really knows how to host an event!

I watched one of the Google guys showing off how smooth and fast Google Earth runs on their fiber network and I was blown away.  Load times are pretty much a thing of the past with gigabit speeds.  The Chromebook could barely render the graphics fast enough during some parts.

For anyone who hasn’t pre-registered for service yet there is an area setup for you to register during your visit.  They have a large display set up for viewing the progress of the “Fiberhoods” around the city.  There is still plenty of time for residents to pre-register for service.

Overall I was very impressed with the Fiber Space, Google has really done an excellent job setting up a space for people to check out the new technologies.  The services they are offering are truly going to change the way   we use the internet in Kansas City.

If you have the chance head down to Westport and visit the Fiber Space and see things for yourself.

Sam Kear

Sam graduated from the University of Missouri - Kansas City with a bachelors degree in Information Technology. Currently he works as a network analyst for an algorithmic trading firm. Sam enjoys the challenge of troubleshooting complex problems and is constantly experimenting with new technologies.

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