It's true. Google Fiber is coming to Austin.
Announced this afternoon by city officials and representatives of Google, the weekend's rumors were confirmed. Austin has been selected as the next major city where Google will roll out it's 1 Gigabit Internet fiber optic network. Of particularly interest for Austinites, Google was quick to point out that as part of their HD TV offerings which will be made available through Google Fiber, the Longhorn Network will be available from Day 1. The was one of many asides and gestures made by representatives today as Google and government embraced the city's culture, from speakers, local appearances in prepared videos, and the tacos for post-announcement noshing.
Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell kicked off today's event, thanking those in attendance as well as those in the community who began working on the effort in 2010.
“Every one of you here has helped to build Austin into what it is today: A thriving center for business, entrepreneurship, education, and technology,” Leffingwell said. “As your Mayor, it's my job to make sure that all of our businesses, non-profits, families, and individuals have the resources they need to maximize their potential. There is one particular resource need that we've heard about loud and clear. It's a resource that can help Austin become even more innovative and make our economy even stronger. And we're about to get it.”
Leffingwell continued to say that higher speed Internet will “change how we live and work in ways we don't even know about yet- for the better.”
Councilwoman Laura Morrison followed the Mayor and described a number of ways in which increased bandwidth could impact local industries including…
- Allowing medical patients to video consult with doctors in HD, in realtime.
- Allowing increased opportunities to work from home.
- Letting classrooms engage in realtime virtual collaboration.
- Creating virtual film festivals and new opportunities for the local video and film industry.
- Integration into energy projects, improving smart grid technology.
- Making the virtual town hall a reality, improving access and transparency in government.
In prerecorded remarks for Google, presented to those in attendance, leaders like former Austin Mayor and now Senator Kirk Watson helped make the pitch for why this is a big deal for Austin. Local icons like Eugene Supulveda were quoted as saying “there may be celebrations in the streets” and that Austin was making “a huge bet on human creativity” today. Rick Perry also appeared to say that “making this happen was truly a group effort.”
For more pictures and details specific to the Austin rollout, continue reading…Google Fiber Vice President Milo Medin said, “We are here because speed matters.”
While pricing details are still being determined for the Austin market, the pricing model currently used in Kansas City was cited as an example. There, a household could get 1 Gigabit Internet for $70 a month, or for $120 a month, get Internet plus TV in streaming HD, with the ability to record up to 8 HD channels at once for 500 hours of stored TV. In addition, each subscriber would get 1 TB of storage space in Google's cloud.
Google plans to begin handing fiber this year in order to begin serving Austin homes in 2014. A similar sign-up system as was used in Kansas City is expected to be used here, where Google will ask interested citizens to sign up to get their neighborhood past a minimum threshold for being wired.
For more details, interested Austinites should visit this page.