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At long last, Google will launch its fiber network in Austin, beginning this December in the south and southeast portions of the city. The company will continue rolling out gigabit service in stages as it’s deployed in other parts of the town.
Google also plans to implement a similar sign up-process for fiber as it did in Kansas City, where areas are divided into neighborhoods and residents need to commit to get fiber. Neighborhoods that hit a threshold specified by Google will get fiber. Those that do not meet that threshold will not, although in Kansas City, neighborhoods have gotten a second chance to sign up.
The limits of each neighborhood are going to be defined in Austin in groups of a few hundred houses served by a single fiber hut where the Google network meets the metro network. The website with those details will launch in December. Mark Strama, the head of Google Fiber Austin, didn’t disclose Austin’s pricing, but confirmed that there will be a $300 construction fee as part of the connection to the home. He also confirmed that Google will also offer a basic 5 Mbps service for the cost of that construction fee with no additional monthly fee.
The details were released as part of a meeting at Google’s Austin office. The meeting was mostly designed as an educational forum for the local press explaining how broadband networks are built and what one can do with a gig. While many of our readers are already sold on the concept of a gigabit network, the details of construction were fairly general.
In total Google is deploying 3,000 miles of network in Austin — all from scratch. It also has so far surveyed 10,000 telephone poles and expects to survey 50,000 in total collecting 10 to 20 data points on each to determine how to deploy the aerial portion of its network. It declined to give details about capacity and equipment.
Google also spent a considerable amount of time showcasing its partnerships with the community to provide fiber to schools and community building, and discussed how Austin residents will likely experience the pains of network construction. My favorite section of the meeting was a reminder that Google’s contractors are using easements and rights of way when digging in residential areas, so people who see their yard dug up for fiber should know that Google does have a right to be there.
Austin is home to AT&T’s gigabit fiber to the home network as well as a smaller gigabit network provided by local ISP Grande Communications. Google’s fiber network currently operates only in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri and in Provo, Utah. It is exploring plans to expand its fiber network to as many as 34 cities in the future.
This story was corrected at 3:10 pm to reflect that Google’s free tier will be 5 Mbps.