Google Fiber High-Speed Internet: A Peek Behind the Curtain

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-10-14 Print this article Print

"Every mile of this network has to be planned and diagramed, which takes a huge amount of time (imagine planning a network that touches [some] 30 utility poles per mile, for thousands of miles). We also plan and build backup fiber routes; we want to be ready just in case there's a break in service along any section of our network (it just so happens that squirrels love to chew through fiber lines)," Toccalino wrote.

After that is completed, the installation of the network begins, and that's the part that residents can see as crews install the lines in their towns and neighborhoods. "In other words, this is a huge undertaking, and we know you might get a bit impatient with us from time to time," wrote Toccalino. "We know you want your Google Fiber–please know that we've got our teams hard at work to get you connected just as soon as we can."

Of course, before any of those steps can happen, Google Fiber team members must work with local government officials in the communities they want to serve to get permission, create licensing agreements and sign contracts for the work, according to Derek Slater, Google Fiber's government relations manager.  

The conversations typically include discussions on how the two sides can work together quickly and efficiently on such an unusually large project, Slater wrote in an Oct. 7 post on the Google Fiber Blog. "Some people have suggested that these conversations between Google Fiber and city leaders involve requests for special incentives, exclusive privileges or tax breaks–and that's simply not true."

Instead, most of the discussions focus on gaining access to existing infrastructure, existing maps of other infrastructure and obtaining expedited construction permits to get the project going, wrote Slater. "Our work with the city doesn't end here. We stay in touch with city leaders and work closely with them throughout the entire construction and installation process to make it as quick and painless for residents as possible."

In September, plans for eventual Google Fiber high-speed Internet and cable television service in Overland Park, Kan., were halted by the city's leaders as they pondered the potential legal issues surrounding who would be responsible if problems developed with the services.

The one-month delay, until Oct. 14, was announced in a Sept. 17 story by The Kansas City Star, which reported that the City Council delayed its decision because of a liability concern in the proposed legal agreement with Google. This apparently marks the first time that Google has run into delays in communities where it has proposed hookups to its ultra-high-speed Internet and cable television services.

In Austin, Google says it plans to start connecting homes by mid-2014. Customers there will have a similar choice of products as those being offered in Kansas City, including Gigabit Internet or Gigabit Internet plus Google Fiber TV service with nearly 200 HDTV channels.

Early results from the Kansas City rollout have been promising for Google Fiber based on Internet speed ratings reported by Netflix each month. Based on the small but growing deployment Google Fiber has in Kansas City, the service is ranked No. 1 for Internet speeds across the nation, compared with competitors, according to the Netflix numbers. Google Fiber is listed at 3.45M bps average speed, compared with 2.39M bps for its nearest rival, Cablevision Optimum.


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