Google Fiber, the search engine giant's lightning fast Gigabit Internet service, will soon find a home in Austin, Texas. Google plans to start connecting the residential dots with its broadband service, which runs at 1Gbps speeds, by mid-2014 in the technology hotbed.
Kansas City was the first to see Google Fiber in action. The super fast Internet service officially launched there in November and is now connecting homes to gigabit Internet that's 100 times faster than today's average broadband performance. For Google, it seems it's all about the speed.
"We know that your time is valuable and so we've always focused on speed -- from search to Gmail, Chrome to Android," Milo Medin, vice president of Access Services at Google, wrote in a blog post. Medin noted that Austin is a Mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities, as well as the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital.
Customers in Austin will have a similar product choice as Google Fiber customers in Kansas City: Gigabit Internet or Gigabit Internet plus our Google Fiber TV service with nearly 200 HD TV channels. The pricing isn't yet set in stone, but the company said it expects roughly parallel costs to Kansas City. Google Internet and TV services cost $120 a month there.
Much the same as in Kansas City, Google is offering customers a free Internet connection at 5 mbps for seven years, provided they pay a one-time construction fee. The company is also planning to connect many public institutions as it builds in Austin -- schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. -- at a gigabit for no charge.
"The Internet is still in its early days and has so much more potential to improve our lives. The web helps students and families access essential resources, from information about jobs and healthcare to banking and educational services," Medin said. "Communities that are connected to the Internet grow stronger because there's greater potential to create jobs, drive economic growth, and help businesses succeed."
Can Google Scale?
We turned to Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, to get his take on the Google Fiber expansion. He told us with the combination of price and speed, it's difficult to imagine who would turn down the service.
"As usual, Google is highly experimental within some high risk industries. They seem to time and again over-deliver and underprice what you would usually get from the usual suspects within a given industry," Shimmin said. "As was the case with Gmail when it launched with 5GB of space, which was just unthinkable for that marketplace, Google is leveraging its to push forward."
Shimmin won't go so far as to say that Google will completely supplant competitors in the high-speed Internet and TV space, but he does think Google Fiber will create some disruption in the market.
"I don't know how broadly Google can scale this and what kind of impact it has or will have on their existing infrastructure. Google is not a cable or teleco provider. They are an information nexus," Shimmin said. "Their scale is one that didn't come from brining cables to individual homes but from gathering information from the millions and millions of web sites online. And it's a very different architectural model."