Google Fiber heads to Austin

The tech giant is wiring the Texas capital city with its Gigabit service.

Donna Tam Staff Writer / News
Donna Tam covers Amazon and other fun stuff for CNET News. She is a San Francisco native who enjoys feasting, merrymaking, checking her Gmail and reading her Kindle.
Donna Tam
2 min read

Google is taking its superfast Internet service Google Fiber to Austin, Texas, the company announced today.

The tech giant plans to start connecting homes with its Gigabit Internet service, which offers 1Gbps broadband Internet service, by the middle of 2014. It's letting citizens choose between having the Internet service or both the Internet and Google Fiber TV service. While pricing hasn't been set, the cost will be similar to the prices in Kansas City, Kan. -- the company's first Google Fiber city -- according to a blog post.

Google is also offering a free 5Mbps Internet connection for seven years for a one-time construction fee. It also plans to hook up public organizations -- like schools, hospitals and community centers -- for free.

"It's 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," according to Google's blog post about Austin. "We're sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access, and we feel very privileged to have been welcomed to their community."

The city and Google announced their joint press conference last week, setting off speculation that Google Fiber was going to Austin.

Austin -- which enjoys a vibrant start-up scene and is home of the South By Southwest Interactive, Film, and Music festivals -- was reportedly on the short list of potential cities to get Google Fiber when the company was searching for the first home for the service. While Google ultimately choose Kansas City, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said publicly that it wouldn't be the only city to have fiber.

In Kansas City, Google Internet and TV service costs $120 a month. That includes a 1TB of Google Drive cloud storage, all the regular broadcast TV channels, hundreds of Google Fiber TV channels, thousands of TV shows on demand, and premium movie channels. For Internet only, the cost is $70 a month. It also provides 1TB of data storage, as well as a network box for offering the service.

The free broadband service, 5Mbps download speeds, and 1Mpbs upload speeds for seven years costs the one-time $300 fiber installation fee.

Karl Volkman, the CTO of IT firm SRV Network Inc., said Austin is the right place for this service if Google wants to turn Fiber into a moneymaker.

"The expansion of Google Fiber into Austin would mean Google is serious about its future as an Internet service provider," Volkman said in a statement to CNET. "Austin is a tech-heavy scene, and Google would be right to enter in this market if they see greater expansion for the future. It's unclear whether or not fiber optics systems are the future of the Internet, but this is likely the first step of many for Google Fiber."

The company is rolling out in Austin by neighborhoods, according to a GigaOm report. The neighborhoods with the most people signing up will get the service first.

Updated, 10:09 a.m. PT: This story was updated multiple times to provide background and analysis.