The Next Big Fiber Showdown: Austin

Google might have big plans to wire America with high-speed broadband, but at least one carrier isn’t willing to let Google Fiber have a free run: AT&T has announced that it will deploy a “100 percent fiber” network in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds of up to 1GB per second.

That location is auspicious, given how Google’s already decided to make Austin the next city to receive Google Fiber. Whereas Google plans on connecting Austin households to its network in mid-2014, however, AT&T promises to start deploying its own high-speed solution in December.

From Google Fiber’s earliest days, Google has claimed that the infrastructure will pay off for community businesses in need of a big broadband pipe, as well as schools and households that want faster downloads. “Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the Web,” read a note posted on the Google Fiber Blog last summer. “Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.”

AT&T’s press release announcing the Austin expansion mirrors that language. “With our all-fiber U-verse services, we are building the foundation for a new wave of innovation for Austin’s consumers, businesses, and civic and educational institutions,” wrote Dave Nichols, president of AT&T Texas. “It’s about engaging the full community and empowering the city and its people with all that technology can offer us. This investment will help attract new business and new jobs to Austin.”

But there’s a few significant catches. First, AT&T’s service will initially roll out to “tens of thousands of customer locations throughout Austin” (according to a press release), which is a mere fraction of the city’s 842,592 residents; second, AT&T has offered no roadmap for expanding beyond that initial base; and third, despite promises that the service will roll out in December, the carrier has yet to choose the initial neighborhoods for its expansion.

Meanwhile, Google Fiber—already a significant player in Kansas City’s Internet market—will likely plow ahead. “We are still in the very early stages of it,” Google CEO Larry Page told media and analysts during an earnings call earlier this year, according to a transcript. “Obviously, we are going to a small number of people and so, but we are excited about the possibilities.”

 

Image: GSPhotography/Shutterstock.com

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