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Google Fiber Eyes Major Expansion

19 Feb, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey, Erik Gruenwedel

Google Feb. 19 announced it is considering a plan to offer more than 30 new cities in nine major metro areas its nascent, high-speed fiber optic service. The announcement signals a (potential) major expansion of a service that’s only been offered to a handful of U.S. communities to date.

Google is eyeing the metro areas of Portland, Ore., San Jose, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C. and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. for the service, which offers gigabit-per-second upload and download Internet connection speeds, roughly 100 times faster than current broadband offerings.

Google Fiber has rolled out slowly since its debut in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., in 2012, subsequently expanding only to only Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas.

Not all of the targeted metro areas may get Google Fiber, Milo Medin, VP of Google Access Services, wrote in a blog post, saying local topography and housing density need to be addressed before Google could get started putting down the necessary infrastructure.

“While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone,” he wrote. “But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network.”

Google offered all local residents in each trial Google Fiber city a free 5 Mbps connection, but the full-service pay platform is what heavy Internet users would look at, assuming they’re willing to pay the $70 monthly Internet fee Google trialed in Kansas City, Mo. For $120 a month consumers had the option to bundle TV and Internet services.

If Google Fiber becomes a nationwide player in the Internet service provider (ISP) industry, its service could be attractive to content distributors such as Netflix, Vudu and Amazon Instant Video. While the Federal Communications Commission is fighting to reinstate Net Neutrality rules (which called for ISPs to treat all Internet traffic equally), content producers riding on Google’s network would have less to worry about.

Since late 2012, Netflix has tracked the performance of its streams across nearly 20 available networks. By a long shot — and only increasing over time — Google Fiber has been No. 1.

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