Tech News

Google Fiber Offers Free Internet, Facebook Celebrates Friends Day… [Tech News Digest]

Dave Parrack 04-02-2016

How to get Google Fiber for free, Facebook invents Friends Day, Amazon brings Alexa to the Fire TV, original YouTube programming is coming soon, and a legitimate reason to own a drone, finally.

Google Gives Free Fiber to Poor People

Google Fiber has begun giving its full gigabit Internet service to people who ordinarily wouldn’t be able to afford it. Starting with public housing properties in West Bluff, Kansas City, Google Fiber will be giving residents access to superfast Internet, with no costs being passed onto either the residents or the housing authority.

Google Fiber already gives residents free Internet access, but speeds are limited to 5Mbps for downloads, and 1Mbps for uploads. These same residents will now get the gigabit service, which means 1,000 Mbps for both downloads and uploads. This usually costs $70 a month.

The announcement reads:

“We’ve wired all 100 homes with Fiber, and families can sign up today to access the Internet at up to 1,000Mbps. Across Kansas City, we’re working with local affordable housing providers to connect up to nine properties, reaching more than 1,300 families in the metro area. Looking forward, we plan to bring gigabit Internet to select affordable housing in all of our Fiber cities”.

This is a very generous offer which will help get families living in affordable housing online without the costs associated with doing so. The cost of broadband in the United States are high compared to the rest of the world, while the speeds are nothing to write home about. Which is why Google Fiber is such a compelling prospect in the first place.

Facebook Celebrates You and Your Friends

As anyone who has logged into Facebook today will have noticed, the social network its 12th birthday. And in honor of turning 12, Facebook is celebrating Friends Day, another nonsense holiday to sit uncomfortably alongside Star Wars Day 10 Geeky Ways to Celebrate Star Wars Day With Star Wars back in business, we felt now would be a good time to think of the wackiest ways geeks can celebrate Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you! Read More and, er, Valentine’s Day.

For users this basically means watching a video featuring photos of you and your friends. But for Facebook this has some deeper meaning. As Mark Zuckerberg says, “rather than having this birthday that focuses on us, we should make sure that the world focuses on what’s important”. Which isn’t terrorism, war, poverty, or diseases, but Facebook. Obviously.

To be fair, Facebook is celebrating “the importance of connections,” which does make sense. After all, bringing people together is the only way we will tackle any of those problems outlined above. However, we’re not convinced Facebook, or even social networking in general, is the positive force 6 Positive Effects Social Media Sites Have on Society There are good things about social networking. Here's our exploration of the positive effects of social media and why it's good. Read More Zuckerberg believes it is.

Still, enjoy watching your Friends Day video,and enjoy having your timeline filled up with all of your friends’ Friends Day videos. Suffice to say, it’s going to be a long day.

Alexa Arrives on Amazon Fire TV

While Alexa is already resident within the Amazon Echo Amazon Echo Review and Giveaway Amazon’s Echo offers a unique integration between voice recognition, personal assistant, home automation controls, and audio playback features for $179.99. Does the Echo break into new ground or can you do better elsewhere? Read More and the second-generation Fire TV, she’s now being added to the original Fire TV and the Fire TV Stick to boot, at least according to The Verge. This brings Amazon’s personal assistant to the older hardware for the first time.

Alexa adds the ability to get weather reports, traffic updates, and the latest sports results to these devices, along with a host of other useful features. According to Amazon, Alexa will be delivered to the original Fire TV and Fire TV Stick “over the next few weeks”.

YouTube Red Gets Original Content

All those people who subscribed to YouTube Red 4 Reasons YouTube Red Is Bad for the YouTube Community Google just announced YouTube Red. YouTube is a different kind of service with a big community. So, is YouTube Red good or bad for the video site in the long term? Read More when it was first announced in October 2015 You Can Now Pay to Watch YouTube, The Dangers of Tesla Autopilot... [Tech News Digest] YouTube Red adds subscription fees, testing Tesla Autopilot, Android stops draining your battery, polling your friends on Twitter, Mythbusters stops busting myths, and Back to the Future in 90 seconds. Read More will soon get their first taste of original content. YouTube Red removes the ads from all videos, adds an offline viewing option, and gives subscribers exclusive access to a range of original films and shows.

The first wave of this original content is ready to go, with three films making their debut on February 10th, along with PewDiePie’s new show, Scare PewDiePie. Scare PewDiePie is a reality-adventure series starring the YouTube’s biggest (and possibly most annoying) star.

The first three films, also all made by established YouTubers, are Lazer Team, Dance Camp, and A Trip to Unicorn Island. YouTube Red has its own dedicated channel where, we assume, all of this original content will be shown to those paying the $10-per-month asking price.

Droneboarding Is Now a Thing

And finally, more and more people are buying drones 8 Questions to Ask When Buying Your First Drone Buying a drone is equal parts exciting and confusing. Here are some common questions most beginners have when purchasing their first drone. Read More because, well, they look cool, and are fun to fly. However, how many of those drones end up lying dormant in a garage after a couple of weeks when buyer’s remorse kicks in Buck the Trend: 5 Tips to Avoid Shopping Impulsively Online Are you an impulsive shopper? Do you throw away money on items you don’t really want or need? Here are some tips and tricks to help you regain control. Read More , and the purchaser realizes they really have no use for it? But it doesn’t have to be like this.

You could, in theory, strap your child to a snowboard and let the drone pull them along. Yes, droneboarding is now a thing. And as soon as someone figures out how to make it faster and more entertaining to watch, this is sure to be a popular sport in the future. Please note, children and drones don’t necessarily mix! [H/T The Verge]

Your Views on Today’s Tech News

How do you feel about Google giving Fiber away to the poorest families? How will you be celebrating Facebook’s Friends Day? Will you make use of Alexa on the Amazon Fire TV or Fire TV Stick? Have you subscribed to YouTube Red yet? If you own a drone, what do you use it for?

Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.

Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.

Image Credits: Sage Solar via Flickr

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  1. DCHX
    February 10, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Hey Ray, Bush started the free phones for the poor not the democrats. Its what the universal service fee is used for. Thank God your not poor. Imagine people looking down on you because your not as well off as them, you elitist POS rot in Hell and remember WWJD.

    • Ray Byars
      February 10, 2016 at 6:51 pm

      I'm sorry I brought it up. Forgive me. It's been a pet peeve with me I guess. Too bad I didn't know what I was talking about. Live and learn, right? Turns out that the program started during Reagan's term and coincides with the breakup of AT&T. Shows what "you & I" know, right? It was "expanded" during Bill Clinton's term. According to everything I've read, the gov. doesn't "directly" subsidize the phones. "The Lifeline program", as it is called, "is not directly subsidized by taxpayer monies".......although....."It is paid for out of the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) through a fee assessed against telecommunications service providers, who may or may not pass those costs along to their customers." A few of the main goals from the 1996 Telecommunications Act included "reasonable and affordable rates for all consumers". Another goal was to "advance the availability of such services to all consumers, including those in low income, rural, insular, and high cost areas, at rates that are reasonably comparable to those charged in urban areas." You might have noticed that it mentions "all" consumers when it mentions "reasonable" rates. Well, I guess "free" is pretty reasonable isn't it? And, yes, I thank God I'm not poor. Also, just because I disagree with mandated giveaways doesn't mean I "look down" on the poor. I do agree with Kelli, we all need to live by the Golden Rule. That commandment was basically the only commandment in the Bible and encompassed all other commandments. Never once have I seen where we're instructed to appoint a "Golden Rule Enforcer" to decide what we need to do and what not to do. Isn't that our job? Isn't that between me and God? You know, it's hard to find a "heart" in a government mandate but I guess we'll all get to go to heaven too. Isn't that how it works???

  2. Kelli Goodsir
    February 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    I find the first comment here so disheartening and the main reason I will never be a Republican. Anytime a company offers something to help others who are disadvantaged, I am all for it. I wish more companies would share their vast resources to help those that through no fault of their own are unable to enjoy or take part in things that should be accessible to all. There are so many people in need of so much in this country.Then you see those that have so much they would never spend it in a thousand life times. God bless Bill and Melinda Gates for starting their billionaire club whereby those who join have to agree to give away 50% of their riches to charity. If there were more people like this, we would not have such dire poverty, illness, or homelessness that is so prevalent throughout the country. Jesus took care of the poor, ill, homeless and needy. We all need to live by the Golden Rule in order to make this country better and not succumb to the greed and selfishness so inherit throughout this country.The cynicism and criticism obvious in this comment speaks for itself and the type of people that only care about themselves and their own gains.I pray for this country daily and those that are in need. I thank God everyday for all the blessings in my life and share what I have when I am able.I am by no means financially secure but find that giving to those in need when I can rewards me beyond any riches.

  3. Ray Byars
    February 5, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    If anyone out there thinks Google is doing all this for anyone other than Google, you're crazy. I suppose this free internet will come in handy on the "free" phones the gov gives away to the so-called "poor", provided they have WiFi of course. I would hate to think the gov gave them a data plan on their phone too. I wonder if Google supplied the computers and modems and routers? These same poor people probably don't have heat in their homes but they have "free" internet. Wow! Now they can crank up the fireplace on Netflix to get warm and then watch some "Breaking Bad". Maybe they can "stream" some "free" food over from Amazon and get a few "free" movies too. That is of course if Amazon wants to one-up Google.

    Plus, if Jay just has to inject political reasoning, then yes, I'm against the free phone program that I and other taxpayers pay for. Thankfully, Google is footing the bill on free internet but, I'm still sticking to my guns on who they're doing it for, which is "Google". I firmly believe the Democrats, who buy phones for the poor and drive them to the voting booths, do it for the Democratic vote. And, I firmly believe that sooner or later, Google will relinquish their free program and turn it over to your Democrat buddies so they can keep it going by sucking some more money out of the real taxpayers, which apparently isn't "you". NOTHING is free. Someone has to pay for it.

    • PeaceSouljer
      February 6, 2016 at 10:46 am

      agreed - in Google's quest to slowly take over the world (apolitical entity which is slowly creeping into all aspects of lives, with almost unlimited funds) this is just the beginning. They can likely write this entire expense off somehow (any corporation giving anything of value away for free will write it off somewhere), and they automatically increase their traffic via Google activity (more activity = more advertiser dollars) @raybyars it is anything but altruism!

    • Kate
      February 7, 2016 at 8:00 am

      I'm glad you're forced to help pay for the phone my aging, disabled mother can use to call for help if her beat-up old car breaks down. The phone we've had to use to call 911 a couple of times in the past few years. The phone my mother used to call a friend or family member during the darkest times of her depression (which was greatly contributed to by our financial situation). The phone we used to call friends and family many times to make humble yet humiliating and eventually relationship-damaging requests for money during the two years I was out of work due to my own disabilities. The basic little cellphone that has no data plan because it has not even the most basic web browsing capability.

  4. jamrine
    February 5, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    I don't own a drone but it would be handy to inspect my roof and gutters to see if any maintenance is needed (and then there's all the businesses that have heating/AC units on their potentially leaking roofs as well). I suppose insurance companies might also find that useful. How about attaching a firetruck water hose to extinguish flames wherever it was needed, instead of being limited to where the ladder could be positioned? What about a rescue drone that could actually pick up a person trapped in an upstairs room on fire?

  5. Anonymous
    February 5, 2016 at 9:40 am

    GOOGLE FIBER WORLDWIDE, PLEASE ! - ( Free Or Not, I Do Not Care )

    • Jim
      February 7, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Only in the underdeveloped countries, is google fiber needed, or the local equivalent. The monopolies, have staked the claims on the rest. Only our government is unwilling to rein them in. When you look at the speed tests, even china, has better thruput then the US. But then, china is willing to invest in infrastructure buildup, rather then letting it go to waste.

      • Anonymous
        February 9, 2016 at 11:04 am

        Monopolies Exist Because Competing Companies Are Allowed To Buy Each Other.

        A - Few, If Any, Contracts Have Really Unlimited Traffic,

        B - Not All Available Speeds Are Equally Distributed Between Downloads And Uploads,

        C - Even ( Real ) Slow Speed Contracts Are Too Expensive Or Plain Inexistent.

        With More Of ( C ), Then ( A ) Would Not Be A Problem.


  6. Rich
    February 5, 2016 at 4:02 am

    Wow Google - nice to stereotype the "poor" person by using an image of a black person.

    • John
      February 5, 2016 at 2:07 pm

      Would you of commented if the person pictured was an Asian? A Latino? A White person?

  7. James Baker
    February 5, 2016 at 2:59 am

    My wife and i live in Plubic Housing and we just make under$1,200 a month. We had to cut the cable with Charter and just kelp the internet by cutting the bill in half, but soon after two months the internet went up $10.00. We in Tennessee where we live cannot get anything from any other company except Charter. Disabled and cannot aford all out bills with rent going up each year and the medication my wife takes to keep her alive.

  8. Russell
    February 5, 2016 at 2:46 am

    I applaud Google for their social awareness regardless the speed offered! Now, if they can only teach Charter that money isn't everything.

  9. Jay Cooper
    February 4, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    HUUURAAAY FOR GOOGLE, now how about FIBERING the rest of the country, giving every home living on less than $30K a yr FREE INTERNET, and charge the rest of us $20 a month for your service, AND REALLY PISS OFF SOME REPUBLICANS (make sure they still pay $200 mo.)

    That would REALLY accomplish something big, as REPUBLICANS would switch parties in a nano-second, if they could SAVE $200 a month!!! CHEAP SOBS!!!

    • Leah
      February 4, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      How would that piss Republicans off? We're not against cheap or free internet.

      • Jay Cooper
        February 5, 2016 at 1:53 am

        Sure you are! You're against anything and everything FREE for poor people, or you wouldn't have any reason to call yourself'd BE a Democrat!

        But, you're probably right about not being against free or cheap internet for Republicans. Right???

        Surely if it was a Government sponsored project to help the poor, you'd be against it then. Right???

        GOOGLE is teaching you all a little lesson, on Corporate commitment to social change and community responsibility! AND more GIANTS like GOOGLE are stepping up, walking the walk, instead of just TALKING!

        In twenty years they will DEVOUR the old school Capitalist model, and the world will see what CAPITALISM is really capable of accomplishing. A BRAVE NEW WORLD!

        • Leah
          February 5, 2016 at 3:26 am


        • Royal Blush
          February 5, 2016 at 4:12 am

          You sound bitter. It would help if you'd knock of the labels and see people for what they are -- people. People, just like you. GIANTS are made of people, by people. People, just like you. Love a little more, because that is what is truly missing, and it doesn't start with any group of people, it starts with you. Try it out! I double-dog-dare ya!

        • Anonymous
          February 5, 2016 at 10:09 am

          Big difference, Google earns money throiugh its business model. They also pay it employees to get that work done, who in turn (along with Google) pay taxes. The government does not earn money, it confiscates it from tose who work for a liviing by taxation. Funny, without that capitalism, the government would have no money to give all that "free" (taxpayer paid) stuff away! Apparently, you must not work for a living and live off the public trough.

        • Spencer Collins
          February 6, 2016 at 6:38 am

          Google doesn't pay tax. At least not in Australia.

    • Anonymous
      February 5, 2016 at 10:05 am

      The local nut house in your location has been looking for you for sometime. Now we can pass on youur IP address and the can finally catch you and put you back in the looney bin!

  10. Mick
    February 4, 2016 at 11:00 pm

    Yes the paid one from Charter is $60 for 60/4 Mbps ! Go figure who pay taxes and houses and all....Now we need that Socialist for president and have them all for free, for somebody else !!!

  11. Drew
    February 4, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    Lol I thought the same thing. Probably best to proofread your articles before you post them. In fact, 5 GBps is actually *40 Gbps*, if you're following standard speed naming abbreviations, where 1 Giga Byte per second (GBps) = 8 Giga bits per second (Gbps). Sounds like they're getting shafted with their 'free' internet.

    I would expect better from a tech site.

    • Anonymous
      February 5, 2016 at 10:11 am

      Good catch!

  12. David
    February 4, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    Google Fiber already gives residents free Internet access, but speeds are limited to 5GBps for downloads, and 1GBps for uploads.

    Wow, 5GBps, that's fast for free internet. (5 Mbps?)

    • Dave Parrack
      February 4, 2016 at 11:23 pm

      Fixed. Thanks.