Google Adds Some Latino-Heavy Cities to Possible Fiber List: If They Make the Cut
Google announced recently it was considering some new cities for its Google Fiber internet service, including some heavily Latino cities. But can they make the cut?
Google is mostly known for web search and other internet products, but it has recently taken big steps towards becoming an internet service provider as well, with Google Fiber -- a super-fast broadband connection that the company has already been testing in select cities like Austin, Texas, Provo, Utah, and Kansas City, Mo. This week, Google announced nine more metropolitan areas -- 34 cities altogether -- that may qualify for Google Fiber's high-speed "gigabit" service: if they meet the requirements.
Those metropolitan areas include some areas with a heavy Latino population, including San Jose, Calif., Phoenix, San Antonio, as well as Salt Lake City, Nashville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Portland (OR).
The ironic thing about Google's new push to expand into cities is that, unlike before, it's putting the onus on the cities' governments to meet Google's demands, which the company has outlined in its "fiber-ready checklist" for new cities.
"We'll provide a checklist of things for these cities to compete to help make their area ready for fiber," reads Google's online guide for cities looking to be included in the fiber fraternity. "We're asking cities to provide us with information that can speed up planning and construction (e.g. maps of poles, conduit, existing water, gas, and electricity lines). We also ask that they streamline processes..." which include permit procedures and access to exiting infrastructure.
For Kansas City's installation process, Google required no charges for rights of way, along with a commitment from the government to review any permit applications from Google within a business week, according to a report from the Washington Post. It also asked for a dedicated team of city employees to help Google deal with any unusual problems, along with office space and the freedom to manage road traffic for construction. Now Google is asking nine total metro areas with 34 total cities and towns to do the legwork for free, in advance of Google even choosing them for Fiber.
But the benefits of Google Fiber, and its stellar reputation, are likely more than enough to get city mayors and councils to ask "How high?" when Google says, "Jump."
Google Fiber has a great reputation for customer service, for one -- something that the ever-growing, monopolistic cable companies most certainly do not. In addition, the existence of a $70 per month connection that's up to 100 times faster than some cable broadband connections (with 200 TV channels included for $50 more) is a healthy challenge to cable companies' monopolies in many cities, pushing broadband prices down and giving consumers in those areas more choices (and Google could be moving into some areas where cable giant Comcast, which is trying to buy cable giant Time Warner Cable, has had a monopoly for years).
Perhaps the best part of Google Fiber is that low-income households can get a very respectable 5Mbps connection for a very low cost: $300 spread out over a year ($25 per month) for the hookup, with free internet for at least the next six years. Some civic issues remain unsolved with Google Fiber -- especially as it's a fiber-optic internet monopoly in itself -- but more pressure on cable companies can't be a bad thing.
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