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1 GB fiber going next to Austin... or is it Provo?

Last week, with great fanfare, the Texas capital of Austin announced that it would be the next city to be wired with Google Fiber. This follows the 2012 Kansas City introduction of the 1 gigabit per second (about 100 megabyte) service.

Austin will follow the same protocol as did Kansas City – by  proceeding neighborhood by neighborhood (called by Google “fiberhoods”) beginning in 2014. According to ABC News, “Google will also equip some Austin public institutions – schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. – with gigabit Google Fiber at no charge.”

Immediately, AT&T announced they would counter Google offer with its 1 GB Project VIP expansion of broadband access. The company said:

“AT&T’s expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives.”

However, this week Google let some of the air out of Austin by announcing that it would also – and probably before – expand to the college town of Provo, Utah. “Google Inc. said Wednesday,” said the Austin American-Statesman, “it has agreed to buy an existing fiber-optic communications network from the city of Provo, Utah, and that it hopes to offer its broadband Internet access there before the end of this year.”

Starting nearly 10 years ago, Provo, a small city with a bit over 100,000 residents, built a municipal fiber network, but never put it into service. It would obviously be easier for Google to purchase the infrastructure and operate it than it would be to build out a network in a larger city like Austin.

According to the LA Times, since Provo residents have already paid for the hardware, they’ll be getting a better deal than people in Kansas City or Austin. “Once Fiber goes live,” said the Times, “Google said it will provide Provo residents with Internet speeds of 5-megabytes per second for seven years after a one-time $30 activation fee. It will also offer residents an option for a 100-megabits-per-second service that includes Google Fiber TV featuring 200 HD channels.”

But as Speed Matters noted on April 18, the hoopla may be a bit overblown. In Japan, a Sony subsidiary is already offering 2 gigabit service at a lower fee than Google charges in Kansas City.

Google Fiber Expands TV, Internet to Austin, Texas (ABC News, Apr. 9, 2013)
AT&T Announces Intent to Build 1 Gigabit Fiber Network in Austin (AT&T news release, Apr. 9, 2013)
Provo could beat Austin to Google Fiber starting gate (Austin American Statesman, Apr. 17, 2013)
Google looking to expand super-fast Fiber service to Provo, Utah (LA Times, Apr. 17, 2013)
Japan’s fastest home fiber – for less than Google (Speed Matters, Apr. 18, 2013)