Technology
11:23 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Austin is Getting Google Fiber

In a hugely anticipated announcement this morning, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin.

The ultra-fast Internet service -- offering speeds more than 100 times faster than connections available now -- will "change how we live and how we work in ways we don't even know about yet," said Leffingwell.

Google says its first Fiber customer in Austin will get service sometime in the middle of 2014.

In a hugely anticipated announcement this morning, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell made it official: Google Fiber is coming to Austin.

The ultra-fast Internet service -- offering speeds more than 100 times faster than connections available now -- will "change how we live and how we work in ways we don't even know about yet," said Leffingwell.

Google says its first Fiber customer in Austin will get service sometime in the middle of 2014.

Some selected tweets from this morning's announcement:

Here's the little video Google produced for today's announcement:

For some people, Google Fiber is the holy grail of Internet connections.

Google Fiber claims to have service speeds 100 times faster than the average provider. Both Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas have the service. Watchers expect an announcement Tuesday that Google Fiber will be coming to Austin – and subscribers would pay about $25 a month.

Back in 2010, Austin was an “also ran” in the competition to land Google Fiber. Kansas City won that round.

Aaron Deacon works for the Bi-State Innovation Team that helped Google plug in to the Kansas City area.  He says it was mildly disruptive.

“There has been some trenching and there has been some digging up of streets but that hasn’t been city cost, it’s been Google cost,” Deacon said.

Deacon says it might be a similar situation here. Google could also piggyback off of existing infrastructure through so-called “right-of-way” agreements.

Tech blogger Stacey Higginbotham says that could anger existing cable and internet companies in Central Texas, like it did in the Kansas City area.

"Time Warner Cable and AT&T were upset," Higginbotham said. "And the city’s response was, ‘Well you’re not bringing us these gigabit networks and you’re not bringing it to everybody…to the underserved and to the wealthy neighborhoods.’” 

Deacon said that the process has been slow going, with Google and Kansas City working out right-of-way deals on a staggered block-by-block basis.

“All of the cities – and whether they be large municipalities or suburbs – they all have policies that need to be navigated in terms of easement and right-of-way access,” Deacon said. “They all need to be negotiated on a one-off basis.”

But some of the areas with low-income households were only slowly getting involved in negotiations and outreach with Google, if at all, he said.

“There was sort of an outcry from those that hadn’t been paying attention to the work that was going on behind the scenes about institutionalized racial and socio-economic division that had always been around in the city but had a new sort of attention cast on them,” Deacon said.

When Google Fiber does roll into town, Austinites shouldn’t expect service right away. In the Kansas City area Deacon said that 90 percent of neighborhoods qualified, but out of the 202 neighborhoods in the area, only 10 are even on their way to Google service.