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Summary:

Municipal areas in eight states are under consideration for new Google Fiber rollouts, as the pressure to prepare for a post Comcast/TWC world increases.

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Google will start the process to bring its gigabit, fiber-to-the-home service to as many as nine new areas, the company said on Wednesday. Google, which has deployed fiber to Kansas City and in Provo, Utah, and is also set to build out a network in Austin, Texas, has helped get cities excited about getting faster broadband and the economic development they hope will follow the connectivity.

In a blog post Google named up to 34 cities that could get a broadband upgrade. They are:

  • Arizona- Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe
  • California- San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto
  • Georgia- Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, Smyrna
  • North Carolina- Charlotte, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, Raleigh
  • Oregon- Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro, Gresham, Lake Oswego, Tigard
  • Tennessee- Nashville-Davidson
  • Texas- San Antonio
  • Utah- Salt Lake City

Rather than pledge fiber, as it has done in the three other cities Google is working with, the company is pledging to work with city officials to help them prepare for fiber. Once the city leaders build out their plans, Google will decide if it plans to work with the municipality. In an FAQ, Google said it hopes to determine which cities will get the service by the end of this year.

We’re going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, they’ll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They’ll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure—like utility poles—so we don’t unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.

This news is likely welcome to these towns, and drives home Google’s reasoning for deploying fiber. It wants to change the nature of broadband in the U.S. by influencing demand (people are now pumped about a gigabit, even though they don’t know what they will use it for. It has helped drive down pricing for other gigabit services and even slower broadband services, and it has helped cities demand faster broadband while considering providers outside the usual cable and telco boxes. In short, it’s serving as a competitive force for better broadband.

But Google has been accused of not doing enough. When it announced its gigabit plans in 2010, it said it would provide an open network — one that other providers could use to deliver internet service as well. This was unprecedented in the U.S., although certain cities, such as Amsterdam, have such open networks. Later, Google backpedalled on an open fiber network, and even as recently as this month has faced criticism for being pretty closemouthed about how it is deploying fiber — something other cities and smaller fiber providers could learn from.

Google seems to have taken these critics to heart, offering a detailed post last week about how cities can manage their own fiber buildouts, and now with this announcement, that could galvanize cities to ready themselves for gigabit speeds. From the post:

While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.

And that in a nutshell is what Google is after: Increasing the pressure on cities, regulators and the incumbent providers to think about how to get better broadband. While that’s a goal that will benefit Google and its myriad products, it’s also a goal that will benefit the average consumer. Because right now, as Comcast is planning a $45 billion merger with Time Warner Cable, the incumbents aren’t necessarily thinking about lowering prices or boosting speeds; they are thinking about boosting their bottom line.

Doubt that? Comcast’s David Cohen, in discussing the merger said, “We’re certainly not promising that customer bills are going to go down or even increase less rapidly.”

Meanwhile, Google, Sonic.Net, Chattanooga, Tenn. electrical utility, the city of Lafayette, La., Australian infrastructure finance company Macquarie and Vermont Tel are all pushing U.S. broadband to gigabit speeds. Which mentality would you rather have in your broadband provider?

Update: The summary excerpt of this post was corrected to reflect that tGoogle added new cities in eight states.

  1. C’mon out to the Research Triangle Park, in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, Google. We’re waiting :}

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  2. We need this in the Triangle!

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  3. RTP is a six-fecta (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Morrisville & Garner are all right here) !

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  4. Nobody's Intercessor Wednesday, February 19, 2014

    A publicly-owned fiber network would be nice in the Triangle area unless that municipal fiber network ban (spearheaded by ATT and TW lobbyists in the NC legislature in 2011 after the city of Wilson gave them the finger) is removed. Oh wait, Comcast would probably increase its lobbying power in this state if the merger is approved.

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  5. Love your coverage on this topic Stacey, thank you.

    When I read through the comments, seems like many in NC want FTTH, unfortunately you are one of the 14 states (in red on this map: http://www.muninetworks.org/communitymap) where a defacto ban is in place to prevent you getting Fiber. You want to change this, you MUST remove the politicians (largely republicans, but some democrats too) that are in bed with the cable – telco industry. These politicians rubber stamped laws from the anti-fiber oligopoly after Wilson, NC was provided with Greenlight fiber.

    In 100% of FTTH build-outs, the incumbents (telco, cable cos) are asked by the municipality to provide fiber to residents and in 100% of cases they refuse. When the cities push through their fiber initiatives, they must first fight multiple oligopoly induced lawsuits (which they always when after wasting significant $$$) before they give their citizens what they want.

    Tea Party and Libertarian candidates are no better than the Republican and Democrats as their stated views toward privatizing everything result in the laws that impede or ban Fiber build-outs. They say they are pro capitalism, pro jobs, except these laws prove otherwise.

    Companies today are asking cities whether or not they provide fiber, if the cities do not, they locate elsewhere. I would not be surprised to discover in the near future that re-locating companies ask for fiber not just for their office, but also for their employees who can work from home with reliable internet access with adequate upstream bandwidth.

    The upstream in the second number in the marketing of 20Mb/4Mb, upstream would be the 4Mb. With fiber there is no business reason to limit the upstream, why symmetrical FTTH offers 1MB/1MB, 5MB/5MB, 10Mb/10Mb, 15Mb/15Mb, … 1Gb/1Gb. These symmetrical speeds are often lower priced per month (usually under $50 per month) then cable offerings with restricted, limited and throttled upstream bandwidth.

    Cable is so throttled that Internet bandwidth is often better with DSL for less, so why purchase cable ever…

    You in NC, if you want Fiber, you must get rid of the legislatures that are already bought and paid for by the telco/cable oligopoly in your state. Remember that your Governor does not have to sign a law for it to become law. That is what your Republican Governor did when the anti-fiber laws passed the Republican controlled state house/senate to prevent from getting his hands dirty….he could have, should have vetoed the legislation.

    You want Fiber, you must get involved politically and remove these yahoos, else move to a community that is more job friendly, like one of the less than 30 on this map: http://is.gd/HCi80q Only the communities offering symmetrical FTTH are represented. If they throttle, its just barely better than cable internet and best to avoid.

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  6. Las Vegas surely needs you here. There is no decent internet–miss my internet I had in Seattle, pay as much for it in Vegas, and it reminds me of dial up days….

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