Google's High-Speed ‘Fiber' Internet Network to Expand to Austin in 2014

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By Paul Stinson  

AUSTIN, Texas-Google announced April 9 that it will make Austin home to its next foray into the internet service and high-definition television market, touting speeds up to 100 times faster than regular broadband.

Building off its initial 2012 launch in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., the service known as Google Fiber will begin to lay the groundwork in the Texas capital to introduce internet speeds up to 1 gigabit-per-second in addition to a television service offering consumers numerous high-definition television options including storage of up to 500 hours of HD video in the cloud.

Plans are to begin connecting Austin homes by the middle of 2014, according to a company blog post.

Describing Austin as a “Mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism,” Google cited Austin's many attributes, including its reputation for thriving artistic and technology communities in addition to the new medical research hospital at the University of Texas.

“High-speed ubiquitous connectivity can make an immediate impact on the work of all of these groups,” Google said on a site dedicated to the Austin rollout. Operational in Kansas City since 2012, the service offers a $70 monthly charge for its gigabit plan ($120 including television service) or a free internet plan that comes with a one-time $300 construction fee.

Time Warner: Prepared to Engage

Responding to the development, Vice President of Public Relations for Time Warner Cable Bobby Amirshahi said the company was “well-prepared” to engage with the added rival, adding that Google's entrance into the Austin market would amount to “just one more competitor we face in that market.”

Speaking by phone from New York to BNA April 9, Amirshahi stressed that the company already had a strong local presence in Austin and was in a position to differentiate itself from other competitors including exclusive offerings that allow for the bundling of phone service into broadband internet and high-definition television.

“We've got the network and the people in that market working on next generation services,” he said.

“With a scalable, state of the art network already in the ground across Central Texas and our experienced engineers developing next-generation network enhancements, we stand ready for any new competitor to enter the market,” the company said in a statement, adding that it already provided fiber-based multi-gigabit speed “for many commercial customers throughout our service areas.”

Amirshahi took note of Time Warner's experience in relation to Google Fiber's first venture into the internet and cable marketplace, assessing that the new offering still had a ways to go in terms of coverage.

“They're not as built out as we are,” he said, adding that although overlap existed between the two in Kansas City, “it's only in a few neighborhoods.”