Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City

During my time working in Provo, I’ve seen the impact of Google Fiber firsthand. Hackers from across the country have gathered at DevMountain to develop new web and mobile applications; the United Way of Utah County has promoted new digital literacy programs throughout the community; and one organization, called Now I Can, has used Google Fiber to remotely connect parents with their children undergoing intensive physical therapy in Provo.

Now, another city in the Silicon Slopes is poised to show the world what’s possible with gigabit Internet. Today, we’re ready to bring Google Fiber to one more metro area—Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake has more than breathtaking mountain vistas and fantastic ski slopes. It also hosts a booming technology sector, world-renowned universities and a vibrant local culture. We’re looking forward to seeing Salt Lake residents use gigabit Internet to spark creative ideas, jumpstart businesses and collaborate in ways they couldn't before.

Salt Lake City will join the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham metro areas in the design phase of building our fiber network. Over the coming months, we’ll work closely with these cities to map out just where to lay our fiber-optic cables. There’s a lot of work ahead; as the new Associate City Manager for Google Fiber in Salt Lake City, I can’t wait to see what the city does with superfast Internet.

For information about Google Fiber’s progress in your area, visit our website and sign up for updates.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Google Fiber for Small Business arrives in Provo (plus more of Kansas City)

Since we launched our Early Access program in Kansas City, small businesses have experienced the magic that comes with gigabit speeds. Take, for example, the documentary film studio that no longer has to ship hard drives to clients to avoid long upload times; or the software developer who can reliably access cloud systems that are vital to his business. Without the stress and lost time of a slow Internet connection, small businesses can focus on what matters most.

Today, we’re bringing Google Fiber for Small Business to Provo and its vibrant small business community, as well as expanding to additional areas of Kansas City (Kansas City North and South). Small businesses in these areas can sign up for our Early Access program, and get gigabit Internet for just $100 per month. In the words of Provo Mayor John Curtis, small businesses can “kiss loading bars goodbye.”

Provo has already shown us what’s possible when an emerging technology hub has access to gigabit Internet — from the DevMountain coding school, to a growing community at the Startup Dojo, or a geneticist who is using gigabit Internet to download an entire human genome in under an hour. We can’t wait to see what the city’s small businesses do with Google Fiber.

If you’re a small business in Provo or in Kansas City, visit our website to get the latest and check if your business is eligible for Google Fiber.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Google Fiber is coming to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham

It’s been nearly five years since we offered to build a fiber-optic network in one U.S. city as an experiment — and were met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Now, Google Fiber is live in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, and we've started to see how gigabit Internet, with speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, can transform cities. It can give them new platforms for economic development and new ways of using technology to improve life for their citizens. And, around the country, it seems to be catching on.

Check out the Kansas City Startup Village and Provo learn-how-to-code hub DevMountain. Take a look at the work of a geneticist whose speedy connection could one day help newborns in intensive care, or how one city's network is connecting a high school classroom to an underwater microscope so students can study oceanic life in the Pacific... from Chattanooga, Tenn. There are many more stories like this—stories about how people are using gigabit internet to spark innovation, inspire creativity, and collaborate in ways they simply couldn't before. And we want to see even more.

So, today, we’re happy to announce that Google Fiber is coming to 18 cities across four new metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. We can’t wait to see what people and businesses across the Southeast U.S. do with gigabit speeds.

Bringing Google Fiber to these cities is a long-term investment. We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins. Our next step is to work with cities to create a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit, and making sure to avoid things like gas and water lines. Then a team of surveyors and engineers will hit the streets to fill in missing details. Once we’re done designing the network (which we expect to wrap up in a few months), we’ll start construction.

We’re also continuing to explore bringing fiber to five additional metro areas—Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose, and will have updates on these potential Fiber cities later this year.

Today, we aren't the only ones talking about gigabit broadband. From the White House to main street, a chorus of new voices is standing up for speed. Just last week during the State of the Union, the President called for faster networks so that innovators and entrepreneurs can build the next big idea. New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth. Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we’re going to keep doing our part to help.

Monday, December 01, 2014

It’s Fiber Monday in Austin!

Access to abundant, super fast Internet can open up new opportunity for communities — and from the day we announced our plans to build in Austin, the city has embraced the possibilities that will come from Internet that's up to 100 times faster than today's basic speeds. Today we’re kicking off Google Fiber signups for Austinites, their neighbors, and local small businesses in the South and Southeast areas of the city. This is just the beginning. We’ll be opening new areas of the city for signups on an ongoing basis, and we hope to bring Fiber to every neighborhood in Austin that wants it.

Google Fiber vans have arrived in Austin
Whether you’re in a home, apartment, or a small business, you’ll notice that getting Google Fiber is a little different. We don’t choose which areas get Fiber — you and your neighbors do. Last year I shared an early look at how this will work; now you’ll be able to see this process live so that you know how many more people need to sign up in order to bring Fiber to your neighborhood.
For Austinites in neighborhoods (or ‘fiberhoods’ as we call them) that are open for signups, you can choose one of three Google Fiber plans.

Small businesses in the same group of fiberhoods can sign up for up to gigabit speeds for $100 per month through the Early Access Program for Google Fiber for Small Business. Austin is already booming with ambitious and creative entrepreneurs, and we can’t wait to see what small businesses do with Fiber.

Keep in mind: you’ll have a limited window of time to sign up. We do this so that we can bring you Google Fiber as quickly as possible. We focus our efforts on one neighborhood at a time, doing an all-out installation blitz if your fiberhood meets its signup goal. After we’re finished in your fiberhood, we’ll move on to the next. Be sure to check your sign up deadline so you don’t miss us when we’re in your part of town.

Want to learn more about Google Fiber? Today we’re opening our Fiber Space in downtown Austin. Drop by and take Google Fiber for a spin, sign up for service, and see firsthand why speed matters. The Fiber Space is also a gathering place for the Austin community, so be sure to check out the schedule of events happening this month.

Thanks for having us, Austin. We've already heard from many of you what you would do with super fast Internet speeds — we’re excited for all of these possibilities and more. We look forward to seeing you around town.

Posted by Mark Strama, Head of Google Fiber, Austin

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unlocking the Connection for Austin’s public housing residents

For Austin's public housing residents, access to the Internet can mean the difference between keeping up or falling behind. It can mean more resident children using computers in after-school programs and robotics clubs, more students using a home computer to finish their homework as their peers do, more working adults completing online GED training modules at home, and more seniors participating in basic computer skills workshops.

That’s why today, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) is launching Unlocking the Connection, a homegrown Austin initiative to help close the digital divide for the 4,300 people who live in public housing. Unlocking the Connection addresses the full set of resources needed to make the Web more available and relevant to Austinites who aren’t online today — an affordable Internet connection, access to devices, basic computer skills training, and opportunities to better understand how they can use the Web in their daily lives. HACA has brought together more than 20 national and local partners, including Google Fiber, to play a role in the program.

We started talking with HACA after the City of Austin selected its Booker T. Washington training center as a site to receive Google Fiber as part of our Community Connections program. That conversation, and the many that followed, demonstrated that HACA had an ambitious vision for a digital inclusion program — one that was deeply rooted in the often complex reasons that people weren’t yet online — and that there was a natural way that Google Fiber could help.

Google Fiber will bring state of the art infrastructure to Austin's public housing; we will provide a free fiber connection to any existing HACA property in a neighborhood that meets its signup goal to get Google Fiber. If a family in one of these properties signs up for our Basic Service, they get an in-home Internet connection at today’s basic broadband speeds, free for ten years after construction, They can also upgrade and pay for gigabit speeds anytime. In addition, we’re providing computers to HACA education and training centers, as well as funding Austin Free-Net, a local nonprofit, to provide digital literacy training in HACA properties. Along with the contributions of dozens of other partners — foundations, corporations, educational institutions — this support can advance HACA’s vision to bring more of its residents online.

Google Fiber is making a long-term investment in each city where we build — including Austin, where digital inclusion is a citywide priority. Here and in any city, our approach is shaped by potential partners, the cues of local leaders, and the unique needs of residents. Unlocking the Connection is the result of the collaboration and commitment of the Austin community — it’s driven by HACA’s vision, supported by local leaders, and engages the talents of community organizations. We’re proud to work hand-in-hand with all of these partners to help create a more connected Austin.

Posted by Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Community Impact Manager, Google Fiber Austin

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A next step for Google Fiber and small business

A super-fast Internet connection can have a big impact on unlocking new possibilities for small businesses. From the start, small business owners have told us that they want Google Fiber to help them move faster, work better together, reach new parts of the world without boarding a plane, and save time for the important things—like growing their business.

Now we’re taking another step to speed up the Internet for small businesses—today, we’re kicking off an Early Access Program for Google Fiber for Small Business in select areas of central Kansas City. And whether a business uses their connection to move to the cloud, get closer to customers on Hangouts, or bring more transactions online, we’re excited to see what happens when Kansas City businesses say farewell to slow speeds and hello to all the tools and technologies that they need to grow.

The Early Access Program is available today in a handful of fiberhoods in Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO. Small businesses in these areas can sign up for a gigabit Internet connection and be among the very first businesses to get Google Fiber. Though not all areas of central Kansas City are open for signups just yet, we’ll keep you posted as we expand. Small businesses can visit our website to get more details, register for email updates, and be the first to know when they can sign up.

First fiberhoods with Early Access for small businesses in Kansas City, KS

First fiberhoods with Early Access for small businesses in Kansas City, MO

Earlier this year, we started a pilot in Kansas City to learn more about what business owners need. We heard from documentary filmmakers, flower shops, web development agencies, and more. All of these small businesses have a lot of ideas on how a faster Internet connection could speed up their entire business — we can’t wait to see what they do with Google Fiber.

We know that small businesses play a big part in Provo and Austin, too. And while we don’t have specific plans for small businesses in other cities right now, we’ll be sure to share updates when we can.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Kansas City: Now Home to the Fastest Starbucks Wi-Fi in the U.S.

At the corner of 41st and Main Street, a Kansas City Starbucks is teeming with people writing emails, streaming music, sharing videos, and more. Now that same Starbucks—one of the busiest in Kansas City—is the first to be connected directly to Google Fiber, so anyone visiting the store can get super-fast Internet with their Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Kansas City now has the fastest Wi-Fi at any Starbucks in the U.S.
At this Starbucks, visitors can connect to supercharged Wi-Fi through their wireless devices, so they can skim the morning headlines while they order or enjoy a cup of joe. There are also new community tables, which have Chromebooks wired directly to Google Fiber, as well as built-in wireless charging technology to power up devices. With these new connections, there’s plenty of bandwidth for everyone to search, stream, and share—without the loading bars or buffering.

Community tables come equipped with Chromebooks connected directly to Google Fiber
Along with fast Internet for the whole community, this store features a digital take on the Starbucks community board, so anyone can find and share local news, upcoming events, special offers and more. If you live nearby or are passing through town, be sure to swing by 41st and Main Street and check it out.

The digital community board makes it easy to find and share local news and events
This isn’t the first time Google and Starbucks have teamed up to bring high-quality Wi-Fi to Starbucks patrons. Last year, Google and Starbucks announced a new effort to bring speedy Wi-Fi access to 7,000 Starbucks stores across the U.S—we’re well on our way, with more than half of locations connected. Connecting this Kansas City Starbucks to Google Fiber is a next step to bring more people an extra shot of Internet speed.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Digital Inclusion: a Long-term Investment

Ed note: In this installment of our Google Fiber Behind the Scenes series, Erica Swanson, head of community impact programs for Google Fiber, shares what she‘s learned about the challenges that communities face in closing the digital divide, and what her team does to help.

Because of the Internet, we have access to more information than at any other time in history. With a few clicks, we can find answers to simple questions (“how to boil an egg”) or explore complicated topics (“Is Pluto a planet?”). And more than ever, the Internet connects us to opportunity — it’s where we go to prepare homework assignments, apply to college, or look for a job. But with roughly 60 million people not yet using the Internet, the U.S. still has a long way to go before everyone is connected.

Unfortunately, while the effects of this digital divide are easy to see, the solutions are less obvious. This is a long-term, complex problem — and creating change requires time, a sustained commitment, and close collaboration with local partners who can make progress day by day.

When people are asked why they don’t have the Internet, they cite reasons you’d expect, such as cost (19% of non-Internet users). But research also shows that 34% of people who don’t use the Internet don’t yet see it as relevant to their lives, and 32% cite usability as an obstacle. The good news is that cities, community organizations, and Internet service providers like Google Fiber are working to address these issues by making digital inclusion a local priority, finding new ways to collaborate, and meeting non-Internet users where they are.

My team and I recently visited all nine of the metro areas where we are considering expanding Google Fiber. Well before the first fiber is laid, we wanted to meet with city and community leaders to start exploring how we can work together to connect more people. So much of what we heard and saw was inspiring: an “Anytime Access for All” initiative in Nashville; Avenida Guadalupe’s computer basics classes in San Antonio; and CFY Atlanta’s Digital Learning Program are just a few examples.

These visits were also a chance for us to share how we can build on the good work that local leaders are already doing:

Make the Internet more affordable
Google Fiber offers people one of the most affordable ways to get online, and it’s available to anyone in a fiberhood who wants it — regardless of income. In existing markets, we offer a connection to basic Internet speeds for just a $300 construction fee (or $25/month for 12 months). Homes then get free Internet for seven years, which comes out to a savings of about $900 over seven years compared to other basic offerings. For people in apartment buildings whose landlords sign up for Fiber, the service is completely free. Importantly, Fiber helps people “future-proof” their home Internet — anyone who signs up for our basic service can switch up to gigabit speeds anytime.

Make access a part of the community
For many people, public computing centers and community organizations serve as the on-ramp to the Internet. We’re hooking up hundreds of neighborhood institutions through our Community Connections program so people in Google Fiber cities have a place where they can get access to gigabit speeds, even if they don’t yet want the Internet at home.

Show people why the Internet matters
Our rally model, which asks fiberhoods to come together to meet a registration goal for Fiber, sends us out into communities to talk one-on-one with people about how the Internet can be useful in their daily lives. In Kansas City’s Blue Hills neighborhood, Google Fiber and neighbors came together to rally for Fiber in 2012. Recently in Provo, we partnered with the United Way to spread the word in low-income areas and encourage people to sign up. National broadband experts say this hyper-local outreach is helping to spur demand and interest in the Internet.

Teach people how to get online
Working with partners, we create programs that help people learn how to do things like power on a computer, use a search engine, or open an email account. For example, in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, we’re working with local universities to build teams of digital literacy trainers through our Community Leaders Program. We recruit and train college students, then match them with local organizations to run digital literacy programs in the community. And in Kansas City, Google joined local companies to help launch the Digital Inclusion Fund to support local nonprofits and community organizations that are helping people take full advantage of the Internet.

Google Fiber started with a goal to make the Web faster — for everyone. We also have a goal to make it more affordable, more relevant, and more useful. It takes a lot more than wires to bridge the digital divide, and we can’t do it alone. We don’t expect to. Instead, we’re working alongside partners to chip away at the problem and get more people connected.

PS — We're looking for Community Impact Managers now in a number of cities. Interested? Find more info here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pardon Our Dust in Austin

Hey Austin, have you seen us around town lately? Our Google Fiber crews are now in the process of building a high-speed network that will one day include more than 3,000 miles of brand new, state-of-the-art fiber optic cables — enough to stretch across the longest Interstate highway in the U.S. (or from Boston to Seattle).

Since we don’t use any existing copper cables, we’ve been planning and designing our network from scratch. 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.

Over time, our network will grow to thousands of miles of fiber, stretching through underground conduit as well as across utility poles. That’s why we have crews that specialize in both underground and aerial construction — here’s a peek at what they’re doing today.

Our underground crews operate powerful drills that can tunnel through Austin’s limestone, guiding a bore head through the earth to create an underground path for our conduit, then running fiber through the conduit. While we wish we had x-ray vision (we're working on it!), our crew members work hard as a team to avoid existing infrastructure and utilities, calling in “locates” with Texas 811 and using everything from detailed city diagrams to sonar detection to help.

Meanwhile, aerial crews are doing work across thousands of Austin utility poles, reconfiguring communications and power lines to ensure we have room for our fiber. This work allows us to use existing infrastructure and avoid additional underground construction, which tends to be more disruptive to the community.
A steerable bore head helps create the path to run fiber underground

Making room for Google Fiber on Austin's utility poles
Underground or in the air, pardon our dust — in order to bring Google Fiber to a city, a whole lot of heavy lifting has to happen! We are working to build our fiber network in Austin with as much efficiency and as little disruption as possible, but this size of a construction effort is bound to affect a few Austinites day-to-day.

Longer term, we hope this infrastructure will play a big role in the city’s future. Gigabit Internet speeds will open up new possibilities for the way we use the Web, and Austin is well on its way to showing the world how it thinks big with a gig.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Gigabit Enthusiasm: an economic reality

Ed. Note: we’re often asked about the economic impact of fiber networks — what does a gig really do for a local economy? To help answer your questions, we have a guest post from Heather Burnett Gold, President of the Fiber to the Home Council Americas, and Dr. David Sosa, a Principal at the Analysis Group. Today they are sharing the findings of a first-of-its-kind research report on the economic impact of fiber-to-the-home networks in U.S. communities.

While many people think of gigabit internet as essential to the future of the Web, others have wondered if these fiber networks just might be too fast, too soon. Based on early evidence of the economic impact of fiber-fed, gigabit services, we believe that the time for gigabit skepticism is over.

Today the Fiber-to-the-Home Council Americas (FTTH Council) released a first-of-its-kind study — Early Evidence Suggests Gigabit Broadband Drives GDP — which looked at 55 communities in 9 states and found a positive impact on economic activity in the 14 communities where gigabit Internet services are widely available. In fact, these gigabit broadband communities exhibited a per capita GDP approximately 1.1 percent higher than the 41 similar communities with little to no availability of gigabit services.

This may not sound like much but consider this: in dollar terms, our research suggests that the 14 gigabit broadband communities studied enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP when gigabit broadband became widely available. (That’s enough money to buy the Buffalo Bills — if you wanted to).

Our study suggests that as gigabit services become available in more communities, the impact on economies and consumers is likely to be substantial. Indeed, if the 41 communities in our study without gigabit broadband were to adopt the new service, they could expect as much as $3.3 billion in incremental GDP. And we are not alone in this perspective; the ratings agency Fitch underscored this point when it upgraded Kansas City, Missouri’s bond ratings, noting that the gigabit to the home fiber network “[…] has the potential to make a significant economic impact.”

The deployment of widespread ultra-high bandwidth broadband offers great promise for our economic future, similar to the way that access to abundant electricity transformed the country, lighting up factories to produce affordable consumer goods and automobiles for transportation. The availability of electricity spurred an era of high productivity and economic growth. And now, we are beginning to see that access to abundant bandwidth is likely to have a similarly positive impact on our economy.

Widespread gigabit availability contributes to the economy in multiple ways. Investment in physical infrastructure and labor creates jobs and increases expenditures into inputs like electronics and fiber optic cable. But next generation broadband infrastructure can also shift economic activity, sparking local tech scenes and the relocation of businesses. Claris Networks moved its data center operations from Knoxville to Chattanooga to take advantage of its fiber network. Lafayette's network attracted Hollywood special effects company Pixel Magic to the community, because the high performance gigabit network lets Pixel Magic move computer files back and forth between Lafayette and California quickly. And from the Hacker House in Kansas City to Fargo’s Startup House in Fargo, North Dakota, local entrepreneurs are using gigabit networks to develop new applications and services, bringing in new investment and talent along the way.

In the last several years, communities, their leaders and several private companies have made moves to stimulate and support our economy by upgrading our networks to gigabit capabilities. They, and we, remain gigabit enthusiasts, willing to welcome the skeptics to help us make gigabit communities a priority.

Posted by Heather Burnett Gold, the FTTH Council and Dr. David Sosa, the Analysis Group