Do you live in the United States? Chances are, your Internet connection sucks. Google has been on the case for a while, developing its ultra-fast Google Fiber network, but up until now that service has been limited to just a few cities.
search giant multi-headed Internet behemoth announced that its Google Fiber network is rolling out to four new locations–Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham–its largest expansion to date.
The announcement didn’t include launch dates, a detail that will depend on the design and build-out process in each city.
In Austin, the third city to get Google Fiber, signups began in December of last year, about a year and a half after the network was first announced. Construction there is still underway, since Google builds these networks out on an on-demand basis: Installation only begins once a neighborhood (or “fiberhood” as the company calls them) has passed a certain signup threshold.
This is the first time since Google Fiber was first announced in 2010 that multiple cities have been slated for a build-out at the same time. While some speculated early on that Google Fiber was really just a way for Google to pressure legacy ISPs into speeding up their own networks, the company appears to be getting more serious about building the next generation of hyper-fast U.S. broadband on its own.
For many, the prospect of Google Fiber coming to town is a very exciting one. More than a thousand cities and towns applied to receive the service after it was first announced, and the excitement inspired all kinds of attention-hungry stunts. Some formed human chains spelling out “Google” from the ground, while citizens of Peoria, IL tried to fly a banner over Mountain View to get Google’s attention. Topeka, Kansas even renamed itself “Google, Kansas”–and it was not the only locale to do so.
The U.S. currently sees average download speeds of about 10mbps, according to Akamai. When you factor in mobile 3G and 4G connections, data from Ookla suggests that that number looks more like 32.4mbps. Either way, the speed with which the average American traverses the Internet is nowhere near what Google is offering. Comcast and Verizon have been slow to respond to Google’s efforts, but AT&T and others are building out their own gigabit Internet fiber networks.
Of course, building out a fiber optic network and weaving it around existing infrastructure is no small feat. On-the-ground logistics, combined with the willingness of residents to pay for a higher-speed alternative, will determine the timeline of the build out in these four new cities. Once things get underway, Google is eyeing up Phoenix, San Antonio, San Jose, Salt Lake City and Portland as potential next steps.
[via The Verge]