Google Fiber Expands to Austin, Texas

Keep Austin weird, but give it more high-speed Internet options.

Google Fiber’s next stop: Austin, Texas.

That’s not a totally surprising decision: Austin, in no small part due to the yearly South by Southwest festival, has attracted a reputation as a good host city for tech companies—many of which could use Google Fiber’s high-speed broadband network, especially if they’re storing and crunching massive amounts of data. Nor are startups the only demographic that could benefit.

“[Austin is] a mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities, as well as the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital,” read an April 9 note on the Google Fiber Blog. “We’re sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access, and we feel very privileged to have been welcomed to their community.”

If all goes according to plan, Google will begin connecting homes to Austin to Google Fiber in mid-2014. “We believe the Internet’s next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds,” the blog posting added, “and we hope this new Google Fiber city will inspire communities across America to think about what ultrafast connectivity could mean for them.”

In March, Google announced that Olathe, Kansas would be the next recipient of its high-speed broadband network, after neighboring Kansas City. Nor has the search-engine giant restricted its infrastructure projects to Google Fiber; back in January, it announced plans to blanket New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood with free Wi-Fi. But does Google plan to eventually wire the entire country?

For its part, Google’s offering up precious little information about its future plans. “We are still in the very early stages of it,” Google CEO Larry Page told media and analysts during the company’s Jan. 22 earnings call, according to a transcript. “Obviously, we are going to a small number of people and so, but we are excited about the possibilities.”

Ever since the Google Fiber project began, 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.”

And of course, faster Internet could translate into people absorbing more Web content, which in turn would allow Google to serve more ads, fattening its bottom line.