Google Fiber is coming to Austin
By Brandon Watson, 11:15AM, Tue. Apr. 9
With giddy anticipation posted to national tech blogs, local outlets citing "unnamed sources," and Google themselves appearing to jump the gun, today's announcement that Google Fiber will be coming to Austin was hardly a surprise. But that did not damper the excitement of the long lines waiting to get into Brazos Hall.
First things first, however. Guests at today's news conference were advised that entering the building gives Google exclusive rights to all "footage." Once in, the proceedings took on a less than high-speed pace. Perhaps bored of the wait, Council member Mike Martinez couldn't quite hold in his glee – tweeting to Forbes "are we the most overrated city now?"
Almost fifteen minutes in, Mayor Lee Leffingwell began "there's one particular resource need we've heard about loud and clear we're about to get it." The news was greeted with resounding applause from the audience, including visiting dignitaries former Mayors Will Wynn and Bruce Todd and Rep. Mark Strama. Council member Laura Morrison joked that Austin was becoming "the live music capital of the web."
The extension of service is a logical next step for Google's ultrafast fiber-optic network. Austin hosts offices for several tech giants - including Facebook, Apple, and Dell - and a laxer regulatory environment presents less infrastructure hurdles. In 2010 Austin made a public bid for Fiber, ultimately losing to Kansas City, Kansas in 2011.
The move seems to indicate that Google is serious about getting into the internet service provider business. When Fiber was first announced, many speculated that it was merely an attempt to embarrass ISPs into providing quicker speeds, thus optimizing Google's search engine. But if Kansas City is any indication, Fiber could present a serious challenge to Time Warner Cable's dominance over the Austin market. The service offers approximately 100 times the speed of average U.S. home internet connections at competitive price points.
The 1 gigabit per second speed may accelerate Austin's already burgeoning tech hub. Fiber has made Kansas City attractive to several start-ups. With some of the kinks worked out from the original rollout, some observers are expecting another tech boom for Austin.
UPDATE: Google will be offering Austin the same package they offered in Kansas City – including internet, TV (with the Longhorn Network,) and DVR. Google advised that "fiberhoods" will be determined by sufficient demand. The rollout will begin in 2014.
To keep apprised of Google Fiber news, sign up for updates from the company here.