Policy

Google Fiber Eyes 34-Market Expansion

Potential Expansion Sites Avoid Verizon FiOS, But Target Markets Served By Comcast, Cox, AT&T, TWC, CenturyLink, and Frontier Communications 2/19/2014 2:10 PM Eastern

In a move that will likely simmer any more talk that Google Fiber is simply an experiment and not a true business in the making, Google took the gloves off Wednesday by announcing it is “exploring” the idea of bringing its 1-Gig platform and video service bundles to an additional nine metro markets and up to 34 cities.

Google said it will use a two-step process to help it determine which cities will get the goods, and plans to announce its selections by the end of 2014. Here’s a list of the cities that the company has invited to join the Google Fiber club, and who the primary wireline competitors are in each:

  • Atlanta, including Avondale Estates,  Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs, and Smyrna (Comcast and AT&T)
  • Charlotte, N.C. (Time Warner Cable, AT&T)
  • Nashville, Tenn. (Comcast, AT&T)
  • Phoenix, including Scottsdale and Tempe (CenturyLink Communications, Cox Communications)
  • Portland, Ore., including Beaverton, Hillsboro,  Gresham, Lake Oswego, and Tigard  (Comcast, Frontier Communications, and CenturyLink)
  • Raleigh-Durham, N.C., including Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Garner, and Morrisville (TWC, AT&T)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (Comcast, CenturyLink)
  • San Antonio (TWC, AT&T)
  • San  Jose, Calif., including Santa Clara, Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto (Comcast, AT&T)

They are all poised to join the current crop of Google Fiber markets – Kansas City, Mo.; Kansas City, Kan.; Provo, Utah; and Austin, Texas (starting mid-2014).

Based on Google Fiber’s new invitation cities, it’s clearly avoiding Verizon Communications FiOS while also targeting relative warm-weather markets where Google Fiber can build year-round or almost year round.

“And now that we’ve learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks,” Milo Medin, VP, Google Access Services, said in this blog post announcing the plan to invite nine U.S. metros to join the Google Fiber club.

He said Google Fiber, which has plans to offer speeds up to 10 Gbps, will provide updates on its selection process throughout the year as it plans to work with city leaders to map out proposed plans and to “assess what unique local challenges we might face.”  Google Fiber, Medin added, plans to study factors that could affect construction, including topography, housing density and the condition of the local infrastructure.

Google Fiber’s two-planning process includes a city-provided “fiber-ready checklist” with info to help Google plan out the construction and speed up planning, taking into account the area’s network of poles, conduit, and water, gas and electricity lines.

Like its initial slate of projects, Google Fiber is also seeking help with permits and access to local infrastructure that can help to “streamline” the process. “We’re asking cities to ensure that we, and other providers, can access and lease existing infrastructure. It would be wasteful and disruptive to put up duplicate utility poles or to dig up streets unnecessarily, when we could use existing poles or conduit,” the FAQ explains.

The other part of the process involved the scoping out of the costs and timeline for the buildout of the fiber network aided by studies that cover factors that could affect construction plans, such as topography, housing density and the condition of local infrastructure.

And if cities won’t play ball or the technology and construction stars don’t align properly, Google Fiber won’t push forward.

“If a city doesn’t want to proceed with us and chooses not to complete their checklist, we won’t be able to bring them Google Fiber,” the FAQ adds. “There are also some physical characteristics of a city that might make it really complex for us to build Google Fiber. For example, underground construction might be really difficult due to bedrock or unusually hard soil.”

Google said discussions with these new cities will not affect its current operations in Kansas City, Provo and Austin.

November