Google to bring gigabit-speed fiber to Austin

Google's second fiber deployment will offer paid and free plans

Google will roll out its second city fiber network in Austin, Texas, offering gigabit-speed Internet and TV along with free basic broadband on plans similar to those in Kansas City, Missouri and its twin city in Kansas.

The company said it will start building out the network next year. Pricing has not been set, but Google expects it to be similar to what is charged in Kansas City. Residents there pay US$70 per month for gigabit Internet, both upstream and downstream, and $120 per month for Internet plus TV.

The capital city of Texas, a hub for technology and the arts and site of the annual South By Southwest festival, was a natural choice for the Google Fiber program and campaigned to be Google's first choice in 2010 when the company first sought applications. At an event on Tuesday morning, monitored via a live stream from Austin TV station KVUE, City Council member Laura Morrison said she envisioned special uses of the bandwidth in Austin, such as live film festivals and concerts streamed into users' homes.

Google plans to build fiber networks in an unspecified number of cities in order to demonstrate what consumers and businesses can do with 1G bps (bit per second) of Internet access. The U.S. needs faster and cheaper Internet service to foster education and innovation, said Milo Medin, vice president of Google Fiber.

All residents of Austin will be able to get fiber directly to their homes and businesses, but as in Kansas City, Google will choose where first to deploy the network by dividing the city into sections that the company calls "fiberhoods." It will evaluate each area on the basis of how many residents sign up for service. The company already has a website for residents to sign up for more information.

In areas where the fiber is deployed, residents who pay a one-time construction fee will be able to get free Internet access at 5G bps (bits per second) for seven years, Medin said. That service will remain available at the home even if it's sold, he said. Public institutions in those neighborhoods such as schools, hospitals and community centers will also get free gigabit-speed Internet.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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