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Multiple Sources Confirm Austin As Next Google Fiber City; Here Are Some Clues Why

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Austin, Texas is likely the next Google Fiber city.

Austin, Texas will be the second major U.S. city to receive Google Fiber’s 1,000/1,000Mbps service, perhaps as early as 2014.

A “major announcement” at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday morning is expected to bring more than 100 community leaders together to hear Google’s plans for the city.

Local media reports, an accidental mention of Austin as the next Google Fiber city on Google’s Fiber Blog, and at least one confidential source at Austin’s public utility company (that owns the poles Google Fiber will be strung across) makes it all-but-certain Austin and its nearby suburbs will get the service.

Austin would seem a natural target for Google as home to the high-tech South by Southwest. Austin also hosts Dell, Texas Instruments, AMD, Samsung, IBM, Intel, and a myriad of Internet start-ups. But a key factor for Google also seems to be the presence of Austin Energy, the nation’s 8th largest community-owned electric utility, serving more than 420,000 customers and a population of almost one million. Kansas City, the first choice for Google Fiber, also has a municipal utility company.

Milo Medin, Google’s vice president of access services, made it clear that Google is targeting cities where it does not have to deal with intransigent privately owned utility companies that make life difficult (or expensive) to attach Google Fiber to utility poles. Municipally owned providers have proved easier to work with, and in Kansas City elected officials also helped cut through administrative red tape and facilitated a working relationship between Google and government officials responsible for issuing work permits and clearing up zoning headaches.

Areas served by investor owned electric giants like Southern California Edison, Florida Power & Light, Commonwealth Edison, Consolidated Edison, Georgia Power, Dominion Resources, Detroit Edison, Public Service Enterprise Group, and others may be at an immediate disadvantage in the race to become the next Google Fiber city if those companies attempt to throw expensive roadblocks or disadvantageous bureaucracy in front of Google.

google fiberAnother factor in Kansas City’s favor was the large amount of pre-existing conduit available to pull fiber infrastructure through without tearing up streets. Cities with this type of infrastructure already in place dramatically reduces construction costs and permit delays.

Google Fiber’s project in Austin will compete directly with Time Warner Cable and AT&T U-verse. Time Warner Cable customers antagonized Austin residents in the spring of 2009 with a planned market test of consumption billing and usage caps for its Internet service. Google Fiber makes a point to say its broadband service is never usage-limited. AT&T U-verse customers in Austin have so far  not faced punitive measures from the phone company when exceeding its 250GB U-verse usage cap.

Many cable industry analysts predicted Google Fiber was simply a show project in Kansas City, designed to embarrass the telecommunications industry’s mediocre and expensive broadband service offerings. But a move into Austin signals Google more likely sees its fiber network as a lucrative business opportunity — one that could gradually be expanded to other cities.

What communities could get the service next? Google seems likely to avoid serving areas covered by Verizon FiOS, because competing fiber networks would likely not produce the bang for the buck Google needs to draw subscribers, and Medin makes it clear the company has found working with publicly owned utility companies easier than privately owned ones, so future Google Fiber cities will likely have these factors in common:

Having a publicly-owned utility helps.

Having a publicly owned utility helps.

  • A high-tech business community and well-educated workforce in a medium to large city;
  • A publicly owned municipal utility willing to work with Google;
  • Pre-existing infrastructure to support fiber service without tearing up streets and neighborhoods;
  • A local government willing to cut red tape and ease Google’s expansion;
  • No Verizon FiOS fiber service in the immediate metropolitan area;
  • A reasonable level of regulations covering environmental impacts of utility infrastructure work, permits, and licensing.

Such requirements would wipe out almost all New York (except Rochester, Binghamton and the Southern Tier around Ithaca — all completely bypassed by Verizon FiOS) and New Jersey as possible candidates. California outside of Mountain View would also seem untenable because of government regulations, sprawling cities, and private utilities. Florida and Georgia have two major private power companies to contend with as well. But there are opportunities in Texas, the Carolinas, Minnesota, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts, and across several midwestern states, especially those served by AT&T’s inferior U-verse system.

[flv width=”640″ height=”380″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/KXAN Austin Google Fiber Expected in Austin 4-5-13.mp4[/flv]

KXAN in Austin spent almost seven minutes of its weekend evening newscast talking about forthcoming Google Fiber in Austin.  (7 minutes)

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Milan In Austin
Milan In Austin
7 years ago

I’m sooo excited that Google Fiber is coming to Austin!!

I can’t wait sever all ties with TWC!

My only fear is that housing costs will increase as the amount of people moving to Austin will continue to rise due to Google Fiber.

How long until the duopoly starts offering Austinites ridiculously good deals??

Ian L
7 years ago

As far as housing prices go, they’re already rather high in Austin proper, due to the constantly growing demand for high-tech labor in the area. And apartment occupancy rates are through the roof…I’m paying around eight percent more on my upcoming lease than I’m paying for a lease signed well under a year ago. But hey, if I can get GFiber at my location, I’ll complain a bit less. Until the next round of rent increases comes in. As for TWC and AT&T, I’d expect both to suddenly start using the entire city as a test bed for their newest… Read more »

Jay S
Jay S
7 years ago

If I understand the situation correctly, Austin has a public ‘Electric only Utility’ that owns the poles. Time Warner and At&T are currently renting space on those very same poles. I live in a metropolitan area with a major regional ‘for profit Electric only Utility’ that owns the poles. Time Warner and At&T are currently renting space on those very same poles, just like in Austin Why would any in ‘Electric Utility’ be adverse to renting additional space on those very same poles, unless the ‘Electric Utility’ was in the fiber/telephone/cable-tv/internet business too? They would defray the cost of pole… Read more »

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago

In a given location, the power company generally owns more poles than the phone company. But even if AT&T owns a lotta poles in Austin, they can’t charge google more for pole attachments than they charge any other attacher. But AT&T can limit access to conduits in its underground ducts if google does not register as a telephone company, which I doubt they will do.

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago

I edited my earlier comment but the edits didn’t get posted. But since my edits speak to your latest comment, I’ll repost them now. The muni-power company in Austin must be careful what sort of “sweet-heart deal” it works out with google fiber. If it’s too much of a sweet-heart deal, you can be sure the telcos and cablecos will want the very same arrangement. So while being city-owned certainly means it must play ball if the City Council so orders, being city-owned does not give them the right to discriminate. They still must treat all attachers equally (or rather,… Read more »

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago

It was strictly my fault — I was editing up until the last second and I missed the window. Nothing wrong at your end but thanx for the kind offer.

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago
Reply to  txpatriot

Well that didn’t take long:

AT&T Announces Intent to Build 1 Gigabit Fiber Network in Austin

https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/att-announces-intent-to-build-1-gigabit-fiber-network-in-austin-202156751.html

Relevant passage: “AT&T’s expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives”.

I assume google’s contract with the City of Austin is a public record, so AT&T s/b to “opt-in” as it were to exactly the same terms & conditions.

txpatriot
txpatriot
7 years ago

You may be right. They might be trying to plant doubt in enough potential customers so as to limit google’s fiber penetration.

OTOH, if google is successful in rolling out gigabit service, and AT&T doesn’t respond in kind, I can see massive defections to google, and it would serve AT&T right.

elfonblog
7 years ago
Reply to  txpatriot

So let us take close look at the linguistics: ATT uses the term “infrastructure” which means whatever the imagination can make of it. They don’t say they’re going to run fiber to residential homes. In fact, they didn’t say they were going to do anything at all, just that they were “prepared”. I mean COME ON! I think they’re saying just enough to try and take some wind out of Google’s sails. ATT can go suck eggs! Anyway, they already have a “gigabit fiber infrastructure” throughout the city, and one of them terminates 50′ away from me. It goes to… Read more »

Ian L
7 years ago

One note about Colorado: a huge chunk of that territory gets their power from Xcel Energy, a private, for-profit enterprise. Though the City of Boulder may be buying Xcel out of that responsibility in the relatively near future.

Oscar@SA
7 years ago

Google needs to add San Antonio to the list then I can kick TWC out the door.!!!!!

elfonblog
7 years ago

OMG, I am so excited! It would be a sweet, sweet thing to be able to go from the criminally pathetic AT&T DSL to Google Fiber within a year’s time! We’d have upwards of a gigabit for only 78% the cost of the despicable 2.57Mbit speed from AT&T. They cheated us for years by delivering only 86% of the speed they promised… often less, but never a hair more. And we’re within spitting distance of both the nearest central office AND the U-verse DSLAM which our “classic” DSL was evidently already routed through. We’ve switched to Time Warner, and despite… Read more »

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