Google Fiber Comes to Austin

Christmas will be coming early this year in the form of Google Fiber for Austinites. Austin, home of the South by Southwest festival, will become the largest city to receive Google’s superfast, 1-gigabit Internet and TV service — a network that will be more than 100 times faster than today’s typical broadband Internet access — after Google Fiber’s initial launch in Kansas City, Mo., last year.

If You Build It, They Will Come

Many believe that Google Fiber will trigger a new wave of startups moving to Austin, bolstering the area’s reputation as a center for innovation. Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said, after the Google announcement on April 7, ”It’ll be good for everybody involved. It’ll make Austin a much more attractive city for those who want to bring their businesses to Austin.”

Technology experts, business leaders, and government officials agree that faster Internet speeds will help boost the U.S. economy. FCC chairman Julius Genachowski says, “American economic history teaches a clear lesson about infrastructure. If we build it, innovation will come.”

Austin, a City of Business Innovators

The fact that Google chose Austin as the second city to receive Google Fiber says a lot about the city’s innovation factor. Austin already has a vibrant and quickly growing startup ecosystem, including over 1500 startups, with 88 new companies added just in May (using June 2012 data). Some of the biggest local startups include Dell, Whole Foods, Home Away, Indeed.com, and more recently, BazaarVoice, SolarWinds, Sparefoot, & UShip.

Then there are the heavy-hitter tech residents. Some of the biggest and most important tech companies have a presence in Austin: Google, Apple, Facebook, Evernote, Cisco, IBM, AMD, National Instruments, and Texas Instruments, to name a few. The economy is booming, the state is business-friendly, and the cost of living is relatively low compared to the coasts, creating a perfect storm for business innovation.

Cable Providers Fight Back

Watching the responses of the two companies impacted most by Google Fiber’s deployments has been interesting: AT&T and Time Warner Cable. Both companies have fought competition tooth and nail over the years and now have an even more formidable adversary.

AT&T responded to Google Fiber entering the Austin market with a press release saying, “…it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin, Texas.” Further, the press release says, “AT&T’s expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses, and any investment incentives.”

Time Warner Cable has taken a slightly different stance, debating whether people need 1 Gbps. “If there is demand for [1 Gbps] service, we will provide it,” Time Warner Cable chief operating officer Rob Marcus told conference attendees last week while discussing Google Fiber.

How will Google Fiber help my business?

More Productive Employees

Any employee who spends part of their time on the Internet will become more productive, and intentional ‘buffering’ will be a thing of the past.

Zach Richardson, CTO at the Daily Dot, an online publication based in Austin, says, ” For any tech-focused business, recruiting and finding talent is one of the hardest things to do. I regularly look at ways to squeeze every bit of productivity out of our existing team. This means eliminating non-break idle time. Fast computers and good tools are a large part of this, but Internet speed is one of the main bottlenecks (and hardest to solve).”

VoIP Takes the Place of Analog

VoIP Hosted PBX systems will run so well on Google Fiber that small businesses would be foolish not to switch. With 1 Gbps, Voice over Internet (VoIP) will have so much excess bandwidth to share, with Internet data on the same connection, that the latency or ‘jitter’, experienced by companies running VoIP over a slow Internet connection, will be a thing of the past. VoIP Hosted PBX systems also eliminate the need for an analog phone system, saving Austin businesses up to 80% on their monthly phone bill. And with the low forecasted cost of Google Fiber being just $70/mo., Austin small businesses will be more than happy to make the switch.

Education & Health Care

Access to streaming live video could help education and healthcare businesses in many ways. Teachers will have access to live-streaming classrooms from other parts of the country or the world, and hospitals will have access to scans, patient information, research, and more in a matter of seconds online instead of waiting for a fax or a slow Internet connection.

Telecommuting

Telecommuting could become the new ‘norm’ in Austin. Yahoo! be damned, with 1 Gbps Internet speed, telecommuters could be accessed in real-time for conferences and so why pay for another office suite? With Google Fiber, telecommuters could become more productive and accessible, and with the cost of Google Fiber forecasted to be as low as $70/mo., it is certainly less expensive.

When will we get Google Fiber-Austin?

In the company blog post, Google says it will connect Austin homes by mid-2014. However, keep in mind that it could take longer than Google anticipates. Putting fiber up on poles requires all kinds of approvals, or at least it did in Kansas City. Eighteen months elapsed between when K.C. was named the first Google Fiber city, and installations began.

If you want to keep abreast of when Google Fiber will be coming to your neighborhood, here are a couple of ways:

1. To be notified whenever a new installation is added to their calendar, visit the Google Fiber Blog and sign up for an RSS Feed. The Kansas and Missouri deadlines are posted, and Austin will surely follow.

2. Sign up for the Google Fiber is Coming to Austin newsletter, and you will be notified of any news about Google Fiber and when it will be coming to your area. Just input your zip code and your email address.

What will Google Fiber-Austin cost?

In Kansas City, the Fiber Internet and TV package costs $120 a month with a two-year contract, and those customers can control multiple televisions using the included Google Nexus 7 tablet. Google offers an Internet-only option for $70 monthly and a free Internet service at “today’s average speeds.” The search giant also provides free services to local schools, community centers, government buildings, and libraries. A few of the details for Austin’s service are available now, but they are expected to be similar to those for Kansas City.

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