Congratulations to Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Nashville: You've won the latest round of the Google Fiber contest!
At least, that's what it probably feels like to residents of those areas today. On Tuesday, Google said it would bring Google Fiber to 18 cities across those metro areas. (Raleigh-Durham was expected to be one of the cities named, based on events Google planned days ahead.) Google has already deployed its 1-gigabit Google Fiber service to Provo, Utah; Austin, Tex.; and Kansas City.
High-speed broadband service is already available in a number of areas, but AT&T, Comcast, Google, and others are looking to push bandwidth speeds even higher via gigabit deployments. Many also see Google's presence as an important competitive threat, breaking the hegemony held by traditional cable companies and forcing prices lower. Google Fiber costs about US$120 per month, including TV and Internet service.
Why this matters: Competition is probably the most welcome aspect of this to consumers. Let's face it: Aside from apartments or homes with a number of users sharing bandwidth, or downloading a game from Steam or another service, most of us don't use the full capacity of our broadband connections. That in no way justifies the absurd argument that cable providers have put forward that we don't need high-speed broadband; it's just that everyone benefits from lower prices, while only a subset of those sees an advantage from higher bandwidth options.
Gigabit fiber is growing
Gigabit broadband is gaining momentum in 2015. Last February, Google said it would explore bringing Google Fiber to 34 more cities across the country, based on criteria that included whether the community in question would share maps of the city's existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines to help with the planning process.
Several of those additional metro areas--Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose--are still being considered for Google Fiber, Google said. And while it's doing that, Google is reportedly considering a nationwide cellular service, piggybacking off the T-Mobile and Sprint networks.
AT&T, meanwhile, has already brought its gigabit U-verse with GigaPower service to Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, and several cities in North Carolina. Beyond that, the company has announced plans to expand to 12 additional markets, including Atlanta; Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C.; Chicago; Cupertino, Calif.; Houston and San Antonio, Tex., Jacksonville and Miami, Fla.; Nashville, Tenn.; Overland Park, Kan.; and St. Louis, Mo., with eventual plans to bring the service to 100 cities nationally. Comcast, too, plans its own gigabit service sometime in 2015, but it has yet to say how it will roll out the technology or how much it will charge.