Gigabit Internet Coming to Austin

By now you’ve probably heard that Google Fiber will be coming to Austin. The initiative brings 1 Gigabit per second bandwidth to selected areas. This is 100 times faster than average broadband connections. Following a successful rollout in Kansas City, Missouri, Austin was one of two cities out of 1,000 applicants selected to be next in the deployment.

How fast is 1 Gigabit per second? You may have heard stories about being able to download seven songs in one second, or a feature-length movie in two minutes. The video below demonstrates download speeds in popular sites like Facebook, Youtube, and Netflix.

This man was one of the first customers in Kansas City. Watch his experience:

So which areas of Austin will be the lucky recipients? Google says it plans to begin installations in mid-2014 and only build out in neighborhoods where there is strong demand. After all, the company has to work with city officials to lay fiber cable and networking components, and wants to see a good return on its investment. For now, you can sign up for updates at the Google Fiber Austin site.

Google offers three different plans to its Google Fiber customers. There’s 1 Gigabit Internet for $70 per month, and Gigabit Internet plus TV for $120 per month, with 2 TB DVR storage. Google also offers 5 Megabit Internet for $25 per month for 12 months, or free for seven years with a one-time $300 installation fee.

Many people speculate that part of Google’s motivation for the Fiber initiative was to prod other Internet service providers into making Gigabit service available to consumers. Google’s project proves the technology is there, they argue, and ISPs just need to stop dragging their feet and offer what customers want.

Indeed, less than a day after Google’s announcement, AT&T announced it would offer its own ultra-high-speed Internet service. AT&T’s GigaPower Internet service, offered as part of its U-verse package, went live in Austin December 1, 2013.

Although current customers only get 300 Megabits per second, that’s still 30 times faster than what other Austin ISPs offer, and they will get an upgrade automatically to 1 Gigabit sometime in 2014.

Like Google Fiber, GigaPower is largely a pilot project, offered to select neighborhoods where the demand is greatest. These include sections of central, northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast Austin, including Mueller and Zilker neighborhoods and Onion Creek, just south of Austin.

AT&T has announced plans to expand its offering to other residential and business areas around town in 2014.

You can find out more about GigaPower and vote for it to be expanded to your area at the GigaPower site.

Regardless of whether residents choose Google Fiber, AT&T GigaPower, or some other service, the question remains, what will people do with all that bandwidth?

At this point no one really knows. Like other breakthrough technologies, Gigabit Internet opens a wealth of possibilities. Just as high-speed Internet made Netflix and Youtube possible, Gigabit Internet may give rise to whole new industries.

You could open a private Internet cafe, like the man in Kansas City, charging users and small businesses a fee to conduct their online business at Gigabit speeds. You could hire a team of developers to create brand-new virtual worlds and games. Or, you could simply enjoy the ability to download a TV show in a few seconds and a feature film in under a minute.

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