Google and AT&T pony up separate gigabit-speed fiber projects for Austin

AT&T warns regulators that it expects the same terms as Google gets

Google Fiber with gigabit speeds will be coming to homes in Austin, Texas, by mid-2014, Google announced today.

And in what could become a fierce competition over connectivity, AT&T also announced today that it is prepared to build its own gigabit fiber-optic infrastructure in Austin.

Google plans for fiber optic access at 1 Gbps --100 times faster than today's average for broadband. "We're sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access," Milo Medin, Google vice president of access services wrote in a blog. Along with the blog, there is a video with Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Fiber, and other Google executives.

Google brought Google Fiber first to the Kansas City area, and since November has been connecting it to homes in both the Kansas and Missouri sides of the Kansas City area.

In March, Google blogged it was adding Olathe, Kan., to its Google Fiber service, but didn't indicate a time line. In today's blog, Google said Austin will be the "next stop" for Google Fiber after Kansas City.

Medin said pricing in Austin is expected to be "roughly similar" to Kansas City, where customers get free Internet at 5 Mbps for seven years for a $300 construction fee, or they can get gigabit Internet plus TV for $120 a month or gigabit Internet-only for $70 a month.

Google will connect many public institutions, such as schools and hospitals, at no charge.

Google chose Austin for its Internet service because the city is known globally as "a mecca for creative and entrepreneurial people, including musicians, artists, tech companies and the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital," Google wrote in an FAQ (at the end of the sign-up page). Austin also made a request to be considered for Google Fiber more than two years ago when Google selected Kansas City as its first city to receive the service.

Austin is also the state capital of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the state, with nearly 2 million people in the metropolitan area. The city has more than 800,000 residents.

Austin residents interested in the service can sign up here.

AT&T, in an emailed statement, said that its intent to build a separate gigabit fiber network in Austin is part of its previously announced Project Velocity IP expansion of broadband access, a three-year, $14 billion investment in wired and wireless broadband infrastructure.

AT&T, which is based in Dallas, also said that it expects to win from government regulatory bodies in Austin and Texas the "same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives."

AT&T said it doesn't expect a material impact on its 2013 capital expenditures because of the Austin expansion. "Our potential capital investment will depend on the extent we can reach satisfactory agreements," AT&T said.

Larry Solomon, an AT&T spokesman, said AT&T has just begun discussions with Austin officials and doesn't have a timeline or pricing information. "Once we can confirm that we will have the same terms and conditions as Google, we'll be able to announce timing and additional details," he said via email.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

This story, "Google and AT&T pony up separate gigabit-speed fiber projects for Austin" was originally published by IDG News Service .

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