Editor's note: This piece has updated to reflect the most recent information.
The initial launch deadline of "mid-2014" has come and gone and like everyone else in the city, we're clamoring for more information on Google's gigabit Internet service, so we dug around to uncover tidbits and teases, maps and more to fill you in on what we know about the service right now.
How far along is Google Fiber?
Thanks to one Redditor, the current installation process was illustrated via Google Maps back in July. The dots are colored by where they are in the permitting process, giving viewers a better idea of how far along the installation actually is. Red indicates "make-ready," which means a request to update existing infrastructure (such as replace a pole, install an anchor, etc.). Green means "installation of buried conduits," while blue indicates a permit to bury the actual fiber. Yellow marks a request for a Google Hut, a small building that serves as a hub for Google Fiber and can service up to 20,000 households.
Where will it be?
When compared to a drilling permit map from April, it seems that Google Fiber is much farther reaching than was reported in the spring. Except, it would appear, for those living west of MoPac. Though the neighborhood is certainly within city planning limits, it remains unclear why MoPac seems to be an impenetrable barrier. (Maybe it's the traffic — zing!)
We also know that the Austin City Council recommended 100 nonprofit, educational and government organizations to receive free Google Fiber. The list, which includes everything from Ballet Austin to local public libraries and St. Edward's University, was originally reported by KUT and can be found here.
The physical Google Fiber office will be located downtown in the former Austin Children's Museum at 201 Colorado St.
What's the hold up?
According to Mark Strama's blog post on September 23, one major obstacle seems to be overcoming the city's current infrastructure. "Since we don’t use any existing copper cables, we’ve been planning and designing our network from scratch," writes Strama. "Today, we have a detailed network plan in place and our crews are hard at work constructing the network, starting with the core infrastructure that will form the foundation of Google Fiber in Austin."
In addition to the current infrastructure, Strama also notes the painstaking process of both breaking through limestone native to Central Texas, as well as avoiding disruptions to current infrastructure. Together with powerful drills, the Google teams are "using everything from detailed city diagrams to sonar detection to help [install the service]."
Why did Google Fiber launch faster in other places?
Google Fiber, which is also located in Kansas City (service is available in both Kansas and Missouri) and Provo, Utah, had much quicker rollouts in those cities. In addition to being smaller than Austin, perhaps the most pivotal reason for Kansas City, Kansas' faster rollout was Google's partnership with the publicly-owned Board of Public Utilities.
According to a report by the National League of Cities, "On the Kansas side, Google’s agreement provides for an executive sponsor 'at the most senior level of the City' and an in-city team dedicated to the project that is able to provide 'on-the-spot exception management' when permits and the like might slow down progress."
In Provo, Google was able to purchase iProvo, the city's aging fiber optic network in need of costly upgrades, but with a large infrastructure already in place, thus streamlining the process.
How much will Google Fiber be when we finally get it?
On November 24, Google Fiber confirmed pricing for Austin:
- Gigabit and TV: $130 per month ($300 construction fee waived with 1-year commitment)
- Gigabit Internet: $70 per month ($300 construction fee waived with 1-year commitment)
- Free Internet: $0 per month and a $300 construction fee (Note: This can be paid $25 per month over 12 months.)
Can I add my address?
Sort of. Google Fiber is currently asking for Austinites to submit their full addresses and receive information about when Google Fiber is coming to the neighborhood. (Previously only zip codes were accepted.) Locals living in apartments can also check to see if their building has already requested Fiber and can find out instructions to ask for the service if their building is not on the list. According to the website, Austinites can start signing up for Google Fiber in December 2014.
On November 20, Google Fiber and Housing Authority of the City of Austin announced it will be providing free Internet services Austin's 18 public housing neighborhoods. For more information, please go here.
The initial plan of "mid-2014" has come and gone, so just when will Google Fiber launch? For that, we'll just have to keep waiting.