google fiber

Google Fiber

Google Fiber announced the beginning of sign-ups yesterday in neighborhoods across South Austin.

The sign-up process puts enclaves, or “Fiberhoods,” in the queue for installation of the gigabit Internet service. Austinites living south of Barton Springs Road and north of U.S. Highway 290 will be the first to get service. 

Already there are 21 neighborhoods on that list of future Fiberhoods — nine in the surrounding area west of MoPac and between Barton Springs and 290; nine south of Lady Bird Lake; one neighborhood west of Manchaca Road; and two neighborhoods off South Congress Avenue. Those in the first group have until Jan. 29 to sign up for build out.

18 other neighborhoods just south of Lady Bird Lake have until Mar. 12 to sign up. 

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Google Fiber announced plans and pricing for high speed 1-gigabit Internet service in Austin today.

Mark Strama, Austin’s Google Fiber head of operations, also introduced a scaled-down version of Internet service with no monthly fee as an "extraordinary value to folks who might not be connected to the internet today."

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Yesterday, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin and Google Fiber announced the launch of the the first so-called "digital inclusion program," that provides free Internet access to low-income residents. It's estimated to connect 4,300 affordable housing residents across the properties owned and operated by the housing authority.

"Closing the digital divide means that every child has a chance to succeed in the 21st century global economy," said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro at an event yesterday.

Google Fiber

After months of anticipation, Google announced today that it will open up signups for its gigabit-speed Google Fiber Internet service in December, starting with neighborhoods in South and Southeast Austin.

“We can only launch one seventh of the city at the time,” Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber’s Austin operations, said of the slow rollout. “The network will include 3000 miles of new fiber optic cables. It’s like going to Canada and back.”

According to Strama, new users that live in South and Southeast Austin can signup for Google Fiber by the end of the year. The company says the process is taking longer because the fiber network had to be planned and designed from scratch.

Nathan Bernier/KUT

  Google offered an update earlier this week on its the impending high-speed, gigabit internet services coming to Austin.

But the announcement also came with an apology.  Google plans to buildout of 3,000 miles of fiber, and warned of impending inconveniences as contractors tinker with utility poles dig tunnels to bury the fiber.

flickr.com/umkc

“We hope to have services to our first customers by the middle of 2014.”

As recently as May 17, this message was posted on the Google Fiber website for Austin, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

Well, July 2 marked the middle of 2014, and beside the announcement of a new employee, Austinites hungry for the tech giant’s ultra-fast Internet service – first promised in April 2013 – have received nary an update. Except for a vague update to the website, that is: “We hope to have services to our first customers later this year.”

flickr.com/rutlo

For KUT News and Reporting Texas

Another competitor is joining the fiber arms race in Austin.

San Marcos-based Grande Communications says it will begin rolling out its own super-fast Internet service – offering speeds up to 1 gigabits per second (Gbps) – in select Austin neighborhoods starting next week. The service, which Grande is calling “Power 1000,” would cost $65 per month, with no contract or activity monitoring.

As a comparison, Internet speeds of 1 Gbps allow a user to download a full-length film in about 10 seconds, compared to over two minutes with a 50 megabits per second (Mbps), which is generally the top-tier speed offered to consumers by most Internet service providers.

Update: Sites Approved

The Austin City Council approved recommending 99 public and nonprofit organizations for free access to Google Fiber. The much-anticipated high-speed internet service will include 23 public libraries.

Read more about the council's actions - and which site got cut from the initial list - here: City Council Update.

Update: Council Postpones Action (Nov. 21)

This morning, the Austin City Council voted to postpone adopting a list of 100 sites receiving a free “community connection” to Google Fiber.

A rendering of upcoming changes to Auditorium Shores.
City of Austin

In its final meeting of the year, the Austin City Council approved a full slate of items.

Among the measures passed was a decision restricting where dogs are permitted at Auditorium Shores. More than a dozen speakers took to the council floor to argue against the change, which would prohibit dogs from lingering on the so-called "Event Lawn" on the east end of Auditorium Shores.

Parks and Recreation Director Sara Hensely said the department took community suggestions under advisement when revising the $3.5 million plan for the parkland. But under a new amendment, dogs are only allowed on the event lawn when traveling from a parking lot to the neighboring areas where dogs are allowed. (No one on Parks staff or the City Council bothered to explain just how that would be enforced.)

Wells Dunbar, KUT News

The Austin City Council convenes today to another crowded agenda. Here’s a rundown:

  • Sound off on the proposed city budget, property taxes and fees

Lots of council action won’t happen until much later today: Several public hearings are set for this afternoon related to City Manager Marc Ott’s proposed city budget, which the council is currently discussing. There’s public hearings on the proposed property tax rate, Austin Energy and Austin Water rates, and additional proposed fee increases (trash, drainage, etc.)

Spencer Selvidge via Texas Tribune

Update: Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced a special election to fill the State House of Representatives seat formerly held by Austin State Rep. Mark Strama will be held Nov. 5.

Strama resigned late last month to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin. The person elected will serve out the rest of Strama’s term – which expires in January 2015.

Original Story (June 26): Democratic Austin State Representative Mark Strama is leaving politics to become the head of Google Fiber in Austin.

Strama announced earlier this year that he’d be resigning his seat in the Texas House. At the time, he was considering running for Austin mayor.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin has been tapped by Google to be the second city in the U.S. to get Google Fiber, the search giant’s super fast gigabit internet service. Kansas City was the first city to dive in with Google. And it’s learned some lessons.

Some of Central Texas’ largest Internet providers also serve Kansas City, Missouri. Think Time Warner and AT&T, among others. Kansas City Assistant City Manager Rick Usher says as soon as word spread that Google was getting some deals –  waived fees, right-of-way access and more – his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

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.