Guess Who’s Bringing Gigabit Broadband To Google’s Backyard?

Author

Adriana Lee

August 25, 2014

It’s rather ironic that, apart from a small Stanford neighborhood, Google’s own home region can’t take advantage of the company’s super high-speed Google Fiber Internet access. No matter. AT&T is stepping in to fill the gap.

See also: The Genius Of Google Fiber

The carrier announced Wednesday that it would bring its U-verse GigaPower gigabit broadband service to the Silicon Valley area. Google’s home base of Mountain View, Calif., won’t benefit from this, though. Instead, AT&T picked Cupertino, home to Google’s chief rival these days—Apple. 

Cupertino Gets More Fiber In Its Broadband Diet

Apple’s hometown will become the first city in California to get GigaPower coverage, some time in the coming months. Its local government couldn’t be more pleased. 

“The deployment of ultra-high-speed broadband service will further support innovation in our community, spur our local businesses, and result in even greater economic development in our city,” gushed Cupertino Mayor Gilbert Wong. 

AT&T, meanwhile, lands a high-profile deployment in a city full of technology innovators. The company suggests that it may not be done courting the Silicon Valley area yet, so Mountain View could still be in the running. 

Currently, the broadband provider only serves GigaPower to three Texas cities—Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin—but it has plans to cover select cities in a total of six states: California, North Carolina, Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Kansas. That’s just the beginning. AT&T wants to move aggressively, spreading its fiber gigabit broadband network nationwide in 100 cities and municipalities around the country. 

According to a company spokesperson, AT&T hasn’t announced pricing for Cupertino yet, but residents in Austin, where GigaPower debuted, pay the same rate as Google Fiber subscribers, starting at $70 per month (for up to 1 Gbps bandwidth). 

Uh Oh—Google’s Becoming An ISP

The momentum behind fiber-optic gigabit Internet connectivity goes back to 2012, when Google Fiber first launched in Kansas City, Kan. Once the public got a load of incredibly fast broadband, of course everyone wanted it. But few could get it. Google, faced with the huge, complicated challenge of building out a fiber network, cherry picks locations and availability. 

In Kansas City, people had to pre-register, and the Google would only roll it out in certain neighborhoods once a critical mass of users was reached. Now they have some of the fastest broadband in the country. Even better, people in certain areas who can’t afford the $70 monthly fee can get free standard Internet access

At this point, Google Fiber serves Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, in addition to its original Kansas City test site. Earlier this year, Google announced that its cherry-picking days may be behind it—the company’s looking at expanding to up to 34 more cities, which would basically turn the tech giant into a genuine ISP. No wonder AT&T’s moving fast.

Arguably, this is exactly the kind of competition Google hoped to spur when it launched its fiber project in the first place. At the time, no major carriers seemed to be in any hurry at all to provide affordable gigabit speeds to residential customers. That’s changing, although still not rapidly.

So if you’re in Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville and San Antonio, you may soon see an embarrassment of gigabit riches. Enjoy it. The rest of us will follow along to see how you’re doing—as best we can anyway over our sluggish standard broadband. We’ll even try not to be jealous. Much. 

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock

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