Google announced Tuesday that they're bringing Google Fiber, the company's gigabit Internet service and digital cable television package, to Austin, Texas, the second city to get the high-speed infrastructure.
Although Austin was one of over 1,100 cities that showed interest in being the first launching spot for Google's 1,000 Mb per second Internet service, Kansas City, Mo., was chosen and started seeing build-out last year.
During the joint Google Fiber and City of Austin conference call, Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell did get a few jabs in about being picked second, but is pleased by the news.
"For our economy it's huge. It's a huge tool in the toolbox for people that may be thinking about bringing business to our city," the mayor said. "We don't even know yet all the ways people of Austin will benefit."
Austin city council member Laura Morrison has been involved in bringing Google Fiber to town since 2010. She said, "I sense absolutely no lingering disappointment today," in regards to being picked second to Kansas City. "I heard one person say there might even be dancing in the streets tonight…of course that may not be all that unusual here," she added.
But in regards to the technological possibilities Fiber will bring the city, Morrison said, "It's not about doing the things that we currently do faster, but also about doing new things with gigabit speeds."
Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Fiber, said on the call that the average American sees download speeds of 6 Mb per second. "When users have faster connections, they do more," Lo added.
Lo said that the service offerings in Austin will be the same as those currently rolling out in Kansas City. The only variation may be in television programming, of which Google Fiber TV currently provides nearly 200 HD TV channels. Lo gave the example of the University of Texas's Longhorn Network, a channel not currently provided in Kansas City, but will be offered in Austin.
Lo said that pricing will be "similar" to the Kansas City packages, which are $120 a month for the Google Fiber and Google Fiber TV bundle, $70 a month for Google Fiber, and a $300 installation fee, (or $25 a month for one year) for free, lower-speed megabit Internet (5 Mb download/1 Mb upload).
The model of service expansion throughout Austin, neighborhood by neighborhood (Google wants to turn them into "fiberhoods"), will also be the same as Kansas City's. Google says that, starting in 2014, they will begin asking neighborhoods that want Fiber to register, and then will build where there is the most interest.
Google will also equip some Austin public institutions - schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. - with gigabit Google Fiber at no charge. Lo said Google has recently connected the first Google Fiber school district in Kansas City.
"We are on the right side of history," Lo said. "For those that lived through the dial-up to broadband conversion, did you ever think we'd be doing the things we can now on the Internet?"