Google Fiber expansions coming to cities across U.S. according to an announcement on the Google Official Blog. Potential cities are much more spread out than the small communities of Kansas City where Google Fiber debuted in the fall of 2012, and Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah where installation is underway. Although no plans have been announced for major population centers like Los Angeles or New York, the shortlisted cities include Portland, San Jose, Phoenix, San Antonio, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham. Google representatives have said that larger cities are likely to receive the option of gigabit speed internet in the future, but the planning that goes into building the fiber optic networks is tremendous and scales with the size of the area the network must cover. As well, leaders in different communities play a large part in the attitude of their citizens towards installations and the construction that goes along with them, so Google is essentially waiting until they are invited to an area before they start pushing to build.
Among the concerns that arise when undertaking the construction of a fiber optic network are damage caused by installation such as digging and attaching lines to utility poles, as well as traffic jams caused by installation trucks. Google wants the fiber to go in as unobtrusively as possible, so they are working very closely with cities they plan to build in. Steps taken include tracking down maps of water and power lines, underground utility tubes, and current internet infrastructure, and getting cities to adopt “dig once” policies that make it easier to go back and add underground lines without repeatedly digging up an area. Each city must complete a closely watched checklist before construction will begin, and Google is using what it learned about installing fiber cables back in 2012. with Google Fiber expansions coming to cities across U.S. metropolises will no doubt get the fiber treatment once enough has been learned about the networks and how they can be installed. At the moment Google is stressing that not all the cities named are guaranteed to get a fiber optic network, but they hope to have a list by the end of the year once they have gathered the information they need from each city.
This announcement follows closely after Comcast agreed to purchase Time Warner Cable, a move that combine two of the biggest American internet service providers. Although this may simplify things from a business standpoint, critics are concerned for the lack of competition that will result. Since internet and cable prices in the U.S. are already among the highest in the world, some friendly competition from Google is most likely just what is needed to both enhance the American internet and bring it up to speed with other nations, where fiber optic speeds are the norm from border to border. Time will tell what the effects of the Google Fiber expansions coming to cities across U.S. will be, but chances are anyone who blinks will miss them.
By Daniel O’Brien