XMission's Company Journal

Google Fiber in Salt Lake City.

Please note: As of January 1, 2017, XMission no longer sells DSL services.

utopiaToday Salt Lake City and Google announced at an invite-only event that Google Fiber would be deploying in Salt Lake City. I have written about this previously, but I thought it was important to reiterate my and XMission’s position on this.

Google Fiber coming to Salt Lake City increases competition to a point. CenturyLink’s options in the two houses I have owned in Salt Lake City were 1.5Mbit and 3Mbit. Speeds below 10Mbit are pathetic in 2015. True, it is all that some people need, but it shouldn’t be all that people can get. Comcast is another option and provides faster speeds, however they utilize this speed monopoly to violate net neutrality and hold entities like Netflix over a barrel because they compete with Comcast’s video product.

Google promises gigabit out of the box, and when fiber is deployed, this is not hard to provide. It will be symmetric, 1 gigabit download, 1 gigabit upload. CenturyLink has been heavily advertising gigabit for some time now (most likely in a preemptive strike against Google), but I have yet to meet anyone who actually has it. Word is that the Daybreak development is getting service. If your house is in Salt Lake City proper and you have CenturyLink gigabit, I’d like to talk to you.

Here’s where it breaks down for me: the Google Fiber network is closed to anyone else. Google will not allow any other ISP to utilize the network to service customers. I think the core reason here is that the network itself is not profitable to Google. However, your Internet usage is. Having a mainline into your home gives Google an unprecedented advantage for an advertising company, of which in spite of their many ventures, is still their core business.

Salt Lake City may rejoice at finally getting widespread gigabit, but this may sour as Google aquires more customers and their service declines. If Google turns Comcast/Time-Warner and devolves to a hated entity in a decade, there will be no other choices to challenge them. If they retain service levels and make their customers happy, they’ll be the only access provider who has attained mass and done so. This goes back to the reasons that AT&T was broken up by the Reagan administration. Robust competition is always a better route than depending on a single entity.

I will buy Google Fiber because I want gigabit to my house. Everything I and my family does will be encrypted and sent through XMission though. This is a service that we will soon open up for anyone on the Internet who values their privacy. XMission will encourage customers in Salt Lake City to dump their DSL service and get the free Google Fiber 5Mbit service. We will have products to facilitate this and retain your privacy.

City infrastructure is non-discriminatory; it benefits everyone, not just neighborhoods where it is profitable. City infrastructure doesn’t prefer one commercial service provider; it should be open to all. My preference is that fiber optics are city infrastructure. I believe that this is where we will eventually end up, but it will take decades for the USA to realize it. In spite of my lobbying, the Salt Lake City government is far from realizing it.


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20 thoughts on “Google Fiber in Salt Lake City.

  • Travis says:

    I <3 XMission

    I live in Rose Park and unfortunately I'm limited to 1.5 Mbit w/ Century Link, or 20 with Comcast. I would love to utilize XMission again like I did when I've lived in other parts of the city.

  • Tyson Bryner says:

    Ohh…I love that you’re talking about offering a vpn through xmission.. Make it competitive pricewise with the likes of Private Internet Access & similar and I’ll switch in a second!. I trust you and xmission much more with my privacy than I do any of the others out there.

  • Matthew R. says:

    I will buy Google Fiber because I want gigabit to my house. Everything I and my family does will be encrypted and sent through XMission though.

    This exact problem has been rattling around in the back of my mind for a long time…

    Of all the available options, the most obvious and arguably most secure way to accomplish this is to use OpenVPN. However, in my experience in doing exactly this to tunnel traffic through XMission via other ISPs, encrypting all your WAN traffic this way poses some problems… particularly at unusually high data rates.

    Performance of a full-WAN-encryption OpenVPN setup is fighting these things:

    – overhead of the extra IP, UDP, and TLS headers. This can approximately double the packet size, turning 1Gbps raw capacity into 500Mbps plaintext capacity straight away.
    – kernel-userspace switching (expensive!), to take the packets from the ethernet MAC, through the kernel TCP/IP stack into userspace for (en|de)cryption and then back to kernelspace to go through the tun interface.
    – raw CPU horsepower available for AES / availability of crypto acceleration (like AES-NI instructions)
    – optional LZO compression taxes the CPU even more, and AES-NI (or similar) wont’t help here
    – there still needs to be enough CPU left over to perform NAT and for dnsmasq to handle DNS and DHCP in a timely manner

    Any solution you come up with will have to have some serious horsepower at both ends… no off-the-shelf wireless router sort of hardware will suffice.

    I’d love to hear about what sort of solution you come up with when you implement this…

  • Kevin Blackham says:


    AES-NI is a good benefit, as well as specialized bits for crypto on low-power ARM/MIPS devices (think Ubiquity’s EdgeRouter Lite). Header overhead is more a problem for affecting your MTU than performance, and compression is usually just wasted CPU time when bandwidth is so cheap. IPSec isn’t as easy to grok or configure as OpenVPN, but it runs in kernel space.

    Managing and authenticating all those tunnels is the real challenge. Technology can handle the math, humans have to design the policies and systems that will provision and keep them in working order.

    Sounds like a fun project! 🙂

  • Peter says:

    So you will be offering a VPN service through XMission? Cool!!! How much? Not that it makes much difference to me. In Roy they are still touting the benefits of two tin cans and a piece of string. Still, that’s better than the smoke signals we use now. 😀

  • Brandon says:

    I live in Daybreak and have Gigabit — what would you like to know?

  • Rich says:

    Ditto Matthew R.’s comment about offering OpenVPN as the choice for this XMission VPN service!

    If this were offered even to current XMission customers, I could then quit connecting to the OpenVPN server running on my Netgear Nighthawk R7000 AC1900 gateway router and instead connect to XMission’s OpenVPN server!

    Right now my normally 100Mbps symmetrical Utopia connection thru XMission caps out at @30Mbps due to the hardware limitation of this close to top of the line 1000 MHz (dual-core) router. Yes, the speed is limited a substantial amount and is highly dependent on the processing power of the OpenVPN server device.

    Being able to connect securely and being encrypted when I’m not at home or just being able to RDP into my house when I’m on the road via OpenVPN is a must IMHO. I’ve even got the wife and kids now trained to use OpenVPN on their devices now too!

    BTW: Hopefully, an OpenVPN server service would have to be offered as either the TAP or TUN type, depending on client need but I personally appreciate the Bridged TAP over Router TUN myself!;)

  • Carl Woldberg says:

    How lucky I am to live in Centerville! A UTOPIA fiber connection to the best ISP in Utah: Xmission.

  • Pete Ashdown says:

    Brandon, I’m pretty sure Daybreak isn’t SLC proper, but in any case, is it CenturyLink, and how much is it? How does it perform?

  • Rich says:

    Setup OpenVPN on Tomato (firmware) and enjoy secure browsing / access to your network

    Would the easiest way to implement secure/encrypted OpenVPN could be similar to the above setup but instead of configuring the home gateway router as the server, it would be configured as an OpenVPN client using the ‘redirect-gateway def1’ flag in order to encrypt all data leaving the gateway router into the XMission OpenVPN server?

    This simple setup would prevent having all the many possible clients/devices in the home to have to be configured for and running the VPN client software in order to pass data securely…

  • Justin says:

    Brandon, what did you have to do to upgrade to Gigabit?

    I upgraded to 100 Mb with CenturyLink in Daybreak and it was a nightmare. They told me someone had to be sent out – I took time off from work – no one showed up – called, and apparently all they had to do was push some button on their end. Not to mention the hassle of erroneous billing.

  • Matthew R. says:

    Rich, the problem isn’t the complexity of configuring OpenVPN on a consumer-grade wireless router. The problem is that even a $250 consumer-grade wireless router like the Qualcomm IPQ806x-based Netgear Nighthawk R7500 cannot do all the compute-intensive stuff that OpenVPN does at anywhere even approaching 1000Mbps. I think it would be necessary to use a dedicated PC, preferably with a very fast CPU with AES-NI support.

    IPSec, being handled entirely in-kernel, will likely be a bit faster.

    I feel obligated to point out that whichever you choose, it’s a tradeoff between the wet hairball of old OpenSSL cruft (OpenSSL is linked into OpenVPN for TLS support) or that the NSA appears to have influenced the design and implementation of IPSec. [1]

    1. Re: [Cryptography] Opening Discussion: Speculation on “BULLRUN” Cryptography Mailing List, 6 Sept. 2013. Web. 26 Mar. 2015. .

  • Rich says:

    WAN to LAN throughput router charts

    This is true since even the ‘top of the line’ wireless routers are lucky to even approach 1Gbps throughput according to the link above. That’s why I indicated not to expect much above 30Mbps throughput over my current OpenVPN UDP connection that I can currently attain over my 100Mbps Utopia FTTH via XMission.

  • janet says:

    will they have this in Midvale utah

  • Pete Ashdown says:

    Janet, I do not know of any immediate plans for Google Fiber in Midvale. However you are a UTOPIA city, so you may want to check with our sales staff for availability of that.

  • Peter says:

    Brandon, does CenturyLink give you fiber to the home like UTOPIA or is your ONT outside in the neighborhood somewhere?

    I see CenturyLink is making a press releases of FTTH in 505 housing developments by the end of the year. It sounds like this is going into new high end residences. They also mention 300 developments in SLC in 18 months. Not certain if those are part of the 505 but it does sound like a response to Google’s announcement. Now lets see if it turns into anything more than fiber to the press release.

  • Pete Ashdown says:

    Word is that the CenturyLink “FTTH” has actually been 40/20 ADSL2. Still have yet to find that CenturyLink customer with actual gigabit FTTH.

  • Peter says:

    Thanks for that info, Pete. It’s like I thought, just another fiber to the press release.

  • JeffC says:

    I miss my xmission service! I recently moved, and with it – lost my UTOPIA / XMission connection. Luckily I am not on Centurylink or Comcast… but I still miss XMission. Its exciting to me to read about the new “Secure proxy” service (for lack of a better word) XMission is considering though!

  • Samuel Jones says:

    I’ve been trying to get UTOPIA (and hoping UTOPIA would either DO SOMETHING or sell to a company that would) for years while I lived in West Valley and Layton. It finally became clear that unless I lived in Centerville or owned a legislator it just wasn’t going to happen so I went with Comcast for the speed. I had a CenturyLink/Qwerst rep come by our house and offer us their gigabit package and telling us that the cap had been moved to 1TB. Luckily, I thought to ask their corporate office for paperwork to verify that – they said they never intended to change their caps from 200GB. Considering I average 500-600GB a month (Netflix, Hulu, etc) I would have ended up in serious trouble!