After rumors surfaced last week about Google Fiber heading to Austin, Texas, the company confirmed that it would be planting infrastructure and preparing framework for an entry in the city. Google Fiber comes at a time when consumers feel amply screwed and cornered by the two big players in each region: Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, and Verizon tend to exist in pairs, depending on where you are in the US, and they're all responsible for holding back technology and offering horrid datarates at unbelievably high prices.
On the surface, Google Fiber offers up to 1Gbit (1000Mbit) per second speeds and independent consumer reports have confirmed that the speeds (or close to them) are indeed delivered. There are a few different packages for Google Fiber, but the primary one is $70/mo for 1Gbps down and up rates with no data cap, no bandwidth overcharges, and no installation fees. A 1TB Google Drive account is also bundled with the service, certainly acting as a bit of an incentive to stick with it. You can read more about Google Fiber here.
Considering that most US internet providers, including GN's own provider, offer somewhere around 15Mbps down for the same price, it's fair to call Google's Fiber 'competitive.' And the upload rates... let's not even get started on the joys of uploading convention footage at 1Mbps.
Google has already forced AT&T and Time Warner to initiate discussion with Kansas City officials, the companies desiring the same incentivized packages Google received, and now they're doing the same in Austin. Following Google's official Austin deployment announcement, AT&T has stated that it also intends to lay the fiber optic framework required to offer consumer-class gigabit connections. The project has been codenamed "Project VIP," originally announced in 2012, and aims to codify fiber optic options and expanded LTE services in major US cities.
All these promises come at a time when government incentives are being offered for more advanced infrastructure. With Google undeniably clearing the path, AT&T and TWC have held their hands out and express interest in offering similar services, TWC stating: "We're happy to compete with Google, but we'd just like an even playing field."
If you're curious as to why it's taken so long to get decent consumer internet datarates in large cities, well, you're not the only one. It's a complex topic, but there's simply been no competitive demand for companies like Time Warner—who insist that we don't want faster internet and sue competition on grounds of existing—to offer internet speeds that threaten their staple cable TV packages (with streaming, of course).
We'll see what happens. There's presently no ETA on the arrival of AT&T's alleged competing gigabit service to Austin. Google plans to initiate groundwork in 2014.
- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.