Never one to shrink from an entrenched rival, Google is getting serious about becoming a premier provider of high-speed bandwidth, setting itself up for a potential battle with cable-giant Comcast.
On Wednesday, Google announced that it will extend Google Fiber to more than 30 new communities around the U.S. The promise for consumers in these communities: gigabit Internet that provides networking connectivity at “speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today," according to Google. And for a fraction of the cost of traditional options.
“We've long believed that the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it’s fantastic to see this momentum," said Milo Medin, VP of Google Access Services, in a blog posted Wednesday. And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we’ve invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S.—34 cities altogether—to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber."
The idea, of course, is to provide Google a toehold in connectivity while providing local business leaders and educators a means for spurring innovation, driving economic growth and improving education.
Before Goggle can make its dreams a reality, it is working with community leaders in more than 30 cities including San Antonio; Salt Lake City; Atlanta; Portland, Ore.; Nashville; and Phoenix to see what has to be done from a planning and construction standpoint.
“We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure – like utility poles – so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one," says Medin.
What Google’s long-term plans for Google Fiber are aren’t yet clear. But reporting in The Wall Street Journal raised one interesting scenario: " … Some in the media industry have long regarded the venture as an experiment, aimed at motivating broadband providers to boost their speeds. Building a fiber network is enormously costly, even for as deep pocketed a company as Google."
For a clearer look at what consumers can expect, look to the company’s new brick and mortar Google Fiber Space store in The Shops at Riverwoods in Provo, Utah. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Google Fiber officially launched in Provo on Jan. 24.
“Google is offering three plans for Provo residents, starting with a free plan that gets you Internet speeds of 5 megabits download and 1 megabit upload for seven years," The Tribune reported. “There is a 1-gigabit per-second download and upload Internet-only plan for $70 per month. And for $120 per month, customers can have the 1-gigabit Internet connectivity plus cable television."