The Race to Innovate

Goodbye, loading bars: City of Austin officials welcome Google to the Fiberhood

City of Austin officials welcome Google to the Fiberhood

Governor Rick Perry speaks at the Google press conference for Google Fiber
Governor Rick Perry
Press gathers for announcement from Google press conference in Austin
Google announces the launch of Google Fiber in Austin at Brazos Hall
Google's Milo Medin
Governor Rick Perry speaks at the Google press conference for Google Fiber
Press gathers for announcement from Google press conference in Austin
Google announces the launch of Google Fiber in Austin at Brazos Hall

Tuesday morning, Brazos Hall was abuzz with media, Google executives and City of Austin officials waiting with bated breath for the official (we all guessed as much) announcement of Google Fiber gigabit broadband's arrival in Austin.

11:10 a.m.: Assistant City Manager Anthony Snipes welcomes the audience and Mayor Lee Leffingwell.

"There's one particular resource need that we've heard about loud and clear, a resource that can help make our city even more innovative and make our economy even stronger. We're here today to announce that Google Fiber is coming to Austin, Texas." - Leffingwell.

Austin applied three years ago to become the first Fiber city in the United States and lost to Kansas City.

"Google Fiber will change how we live and how we work in ways that we don't even know about yet." - Leffingwell

"[Council member Laura Morrison] knew from the start that Austin would benefit and so would Google, she kept her head down and make this happen." - Leffingwell

11:15 a.m.: "It's about being able to do all new things on the internet because of gigabit service." - Laura Morrison

An engineer by education, she asks the audience to imagine how Google Fiber will impact the following:

  • A more reliable work-from-home setup, ultimately reducing carbon footprint
  • Classrooms where students could collaborate virtually on projects
  • A faster doctor and patient interface
  • Leveraging smart grid technology
  • Residents and city officials interacting in real time with virtual Town Hall meetings
  • Streaming concerts live to the home

11:21 a.m.: Google is nothing if not good at creating inspiring multimedia videos in support of its products. Video plays compiling Austin residents passionately speaking of the city's future with Google Fiber. 

11:24 a.m.: Milo Medin, vice president of access services, thanks city officials and asks for a big hand of applause. "We're here because speed matters."

In half a decade, internet speeds have not increased much, Medin says. "This is a problem in a world that's highly competitive."

What do you get?

  • Gigabit internet service, no volume caps with a terabyte of Google Drive storage
  • Gigabit + TV service, HD DVR
  • Free upgrade path for the future if you don't want it today

Business model differences:

  • Google builds where citizens of Austin wants it to.
  • Will organize Austin into "Fiberhoods" and will bring service to any Fiberhood that has a certain percentage of sign ups.
  • Will install in schools, hospitals, libraries at no charge. More information about this process to come later in 2013.

"Austin has a legacy of inspiring other cities and states in America and we know you'll use your creativity." - Medin. He also notes pricing is not yet determined.

11:33 a.m.: Governor Rick Perry introduced. "This is a big announcement. This really fits into the Texas tradition of freedom, enterprise... This announcement will mean another wave for many innovative companies... It vastly increases the odds that the next big thing — the next Google — will be born and bred in the Lone Star State."

11:45 a.m.: Media questions with Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Fiber.

  • Google Fiber has partnered with City of Austin and Austin Energy in order to get access to the poles (see more information on Fiber poles here) from which they'll string the Fiber.
  • "The community response is really what drove us here. And for me personally, it's the creativity and entrepreneurship that's so exciting."
  • Announcement of small businesses offerings forthcoming.
  • 100 public institutions selected by the City of Austin will get a gigabit for free.
  • Only focusing on City of Austin, Round Rock and surrounding areas are out of luck.
  • "These networks are complicated and take time to build."
  • Lo maintains they are on time in Kansas City despite a reporter insinuating Kansas City citizens are upset with roll-out time frame.
  • Average American household download is 5.8 megabits a second, Google Fiber will provide 1 gigabit a second.
  • For perspective, 1 gigabit = 1,000 megabits.

Austinites can expect Google Fiber construction and service to begin mid-2014. Stay tuned for updates on Fiber's page.