Google Fiber eyed for three more cities: Oklahoma City, Jacksonville and Tampa

In Kansas City area, Google Fiber outage strikes at start of World Series, angering customers

US Google Fiber map

Google's crusade to light up U.S. cities with gigabit speed Google Fiber has expanded to potentially include Oklahoma City and Jacksonville and Tampa, Florida.

In a blog posted Wednesday, Google said it invited the capital city of Oklahoma and the two Florida cities to "explore" bringing faster fiber to their communities.

In September, Google also invited San Diego and Irvine, Calif., and Louisville, Ky., to explore bringing Google Fiber to their communities.

The three latest invitees bring to 18 the number of cities where Google has begun serving customers, designing or building fiber, or is exploring service. Kansas City, in both Missouri and Kansas, was the first community to get Google Fiber in 2011, joined by Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah, in 2013.

"Constructing a brand-new fiber community is a big job," Google Fiber's Jill Szuchmacher, director of expansion, wrote in its latest blog.

Google often describes its Fiber buildout with evangelical zeal. "From startup villages to hackathons, communities are coming together to accomplish great things with gigabit speeds," according to the Wednesday blog. "Still less than 10% of homes in the U.S. are connected to the Internet served over fiber-optic networks."

Google's push has focused and refocused some traditional Internet providers on boosting speeds and launching fiber initiatives. Nearly a year ago, AT&T said it would continue a previously announced 100-city fiber-optic network expansion in 25 metro areas. As part of AT&T's opposition to net neutrality initiatives being weighed by federal policymakers through much of 2014, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson had said the carrier would delay a fiber buildout until there was more clarity on net neutrality.

A map on AT&T's website depicts 16 metro areas with its GigaPower fiber-optic 1Gbps service. The map also indicates that three other metro areas where the service is planned and six more that are being "explored" for service. In all, 25 metro areas are included in some designation by AT&T.

While Google's public statements refer to the advance preparation needed for building an efficient metro fiber network, Google has also faced its share of operational problems.

For example, at the start of the World Series on Tuesday night, Google Fiber service across the Kansas City market blacked out for TV and Internet customers. The interruption lasted less than hour for some customers and longer for others, according to The Kansas City Star.

Some customers tweeted complaints, including one man named Tanner Banion who asked, "Hey KC police, could you do a welfare check on Google Fiber KC?"

The failure meant Google Fiber customers missed the live transmission of Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar's in-the-park homerun on the first pitch of the 2015 World Series.

Google issued an apology and promised customer credits equaling two days of service. Google blamed the outage on the failure of a server used to authenticate customer equipment and said it would take steps to ensure the problem didn't occur again. 

The Google Fiber outage was unrelated to a separate national disruption of Fox's national TV broadcast of the game. Fox blamed that temporary outage on a loss of power to a Fox operations truck at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., where the game was played.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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