Google Fiber coming to Austin

After nearly a week of speculation, Google confirmed the worst-kept secret in fiber to the home (FTTH): that it will bring its symmetrical 1-Gbps Google Fiber offering to Austin, TX.

After nearly a week of speculation, Google confirmed the worst-kept secret in fiber to the home (FTTH): that it will bring its symmetrical 1-Gbps Google Fiber offering to Austin, TX.

(How badly kept was it? Gig.U issued a release yesterday under embargo congratulating Austin and Google on the announcement that hadn’t been made yet. Naturally, someone didn’t honor the embargo -- which led to some furious backpedaling on Gig.U's part.)

The effort will launch in earnest in 2014, with Google planning to offer Austin “fiberhoods” the opportunity to sign up by the middle of the year. Home connections should begin shortly thereafter, Google says.

The roll out and the services offered should mirror Google Fiber in Kansas City. That means three tiers of service, with the connection fee waived for two of the three; for the price of the connection fee, customers can get “free” Internet access for “at least” seven years, albeit at data rates of 5 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream (see "Google Fiber open for business"). Google says it hasn’t yet settled on what it will charge for these services in Austin, but promised that prices will be “roughly similar” to those levied in Kansas City.

In addition, Google will connect anchor institutions such as schools, libraries, and hospitals to its network. It also promised to create an offering for small businesses.

In an FAQ on its Google Fiber site, the company noted that Austin had caught its attention during the frenzied RFI phase that led to the selection of Kansas City as its first deployment target. “When we were originally choosing where to bring Fiber in 2010, Austin had one of the most enthusiastic responses,” the company wrote. “Austin city leaders have worked hard to make this possible, and we’re excited to be here.”

Two parties likely not so excited are AT&T and Time Warner Cable, which are the incumbent service providers in Kansas City and once again find themselves pitted against Google in Austin. However, AT&T this time may take Google head on, having announced its own (conditional) plans for 1-Gbps connections in Austin as well (see "AT&T: We’ll do 1 Gbps in Austin too – maybe").

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