Google Fiber announcement is big news for high-speed Internet enthusiasts across the country

by / Friday, 07 March 2014 / Published in Business

For the past couple of years, there has been some serious speculation about which company was going to step up and lead the charge toward creating a nationwide network of true high-speed Internet. We know the technology exists to make it happen, but it seems like the business interests care more about preserving the status quo, so nothing ever really gets done.

Google seemed like one of the most likely candidates, and they teased us all about the possibilities when they rolled out their Google Fiber service in Kansas City, and then later in Provo, Utah and Austin. Nobody was exactly sure why they limited it to such a small group of cities to start out with, or why those particular cities were selected. Those of us in the rest of the country were just left to wonder about the possibilities and look on with jealousy.

Now, Google has finally shown some indication that they’re ready to make a giant leap forward in rolling out Fiber to a larger market. The company has announced nine new metro areas—and a total of 34 individual municipalities—that are candidates for getting Fiber service in the near future.

The list includes communities in the following metropolitan areas:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Nashville
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • Portland
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • San Jose

According to Google, the company was looking for cities where leadership had expressed a desire to bring fast Internet speeds and the latest technologies to their communities. The list of new metro areas, much like the original three cities to get Fiber, includes mostly medium-sized communities in the South and West that already have a strong tech presence. The largest, most powerful cities in the country continue to be absent from the list of Fiber cities, although Google’s own home area of San Jose has been added, in a decision that seems like it would have been a no-brainer from the start.

The one thing that seems to tie these new Fiber cities together is that getting Fiber would be a serious feather in the cap for all of them. These are all cities who seem hungry to prove themselves on a national stage, and perhaps that’s what Google was looking for when they came up with this list. Of course, this preliminary list does not mean that any of these cities are assured of actually getting Fiber service. As Google words it, these cities have just been invited to “explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.” This clearly means that these cities will be expected to work together with Google to overcome any local challenges that might exist, so perhaps having a municipal government that’s willing to play by Google’s rules was one of the requirements to get on the list as well.

Ever since Google Fiber first came to Kansas City, I was wondering when they might make a move to bring the service to more people. Some had speculated that Fiber was just a small-scale experiment that would never be expanded nationwide, but the thing about experiments is that when they succeed, you generally perform them again in order to replicate that success. If Google’s mission was to create demand for Fiber by rolling it out in a way that kept most of the nation from getting it, then mission accomplished: demand for the service has been huge across the country, and there are no doubt going to be people who are disappointed that their cities are still not being considered.

On the other hand, this announcement is definitely exciting for people who value high-speed Internet service, regardless of whether or not their city is on the list. It takes disruption to shake an industry out of a coma, and Google is finally indicating that they may be the company to provide that disruption in the high-speed Internet business. They may not be the company that brings high-speed Internet to the entire country, but at least this announcement is going to put some pressure on the traditional broadband Internet providers in all of cities on the list. That can only be a good thing going forward.