Updated from 1:30 p.m. to include cost in the second paragraph plus comments about Google Fiber from CEO Larry Page in the fourth paragraph.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Those who lived in the areas where Google (GOOG - Get Report) Fiber were seen as lucky, getting download speeds nearly 100 times faster than what most of us have today. Now, a lot more of the U.S. population is about to get lucky as well.
First spotted in a tweet from Washington Post tech journalist, Cecilia Kang, Google is expanding its nascent high-speed Internet business to an additional 34 cities. Currently, Google Fiber is available in Austin, TX, Kansas City, MO and Provo, UT. Right now, Google Fiber in Kansas City costs $70 a month for gigabit Internet, and $120 for gigabit Internet and television. You can also get free 5 Mbps/second Internet from Google, but there's a one-time $300 construction fee. The construction fee is waived for the gigabit Internet and television plans. The pricing for the plans in Provo is the same, except all packages have a $30 construction fee.
Google made the announcement on its blog.
On Google's third-quarter earnings call, CEO Larry Page noted that it was still early on Google Fiber, but that there exceptional excitement about the product. "So one big change in having a high-speed data connection is actually the entire kind of television experience, cable TV like experience comes straight through your data connection, through your gigabit connection," Page said on the call. "And people I think have been pretty excited about that experience being a great experience for watching television actually."
It's interesting timing, given the recent announcement of the proposed Comcast (CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (TWC) merger, and concerns over net neutrality. Earlier today, The Wall Street Journal noted Verizon (VZ) was throttling the speeds of Netflix (NFLX), which is one of the most data intensive uses on the Verizon network.
Here's the full blog post from Google:
"Over the last few years, gigabit Internet has moved from idea to reality, with dozens of communities [PDF link] working hard to build networks with speeds 100 times faster than what most of us live with today. People are hungrier than ever for faster Internet, and as a result, cities across America are making speed a priority. Hundreds of mayors from across the U.S. have stated [PDF link] that abundant high-speed Internet access is essential for sparking innovation, driving economic growth and improving education. Portland, Nashville [PDF link] and dozens of others have made high-speed broadband a pillar of their economic development plans. And Julian Castro, the mayor of San Antonio, declared in June that every school should have access to gigabit speeds by 2020.
We've long believed that the Internet's next chapter will be built on gigabit speeds, so it's fantastic to see this momentum. And now that we've learned a lot from our Google Fiber projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, we want to help build more ultra-fast networks. So we've invited cities in nine metro areas around the U.S. -34 cities altogether- to work with us to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber. We aim to provide updates by the end of the year about which cities will be getting Google Fiber. Between now and then, we'll work closely with each city's leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face. These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.
We're going to work on a detailed study of local factors that could affect construction, like topography (e.g., hills, flood zones), housing density and the condition of local infrastructure. Meanwhile, cities will complete a checklist of items that will help them get ready for a project of this scale and speed. For example, theyll provide us with maps of existing conduit, water, gas and electricity lines so that we can plan where to place fiber. They'll also help us find ways to access existing infrastructure - like utility poles - so we don't unnecessarily dig up streets or have to put up a new pole next to an existing one.
While we do want to bring Fiber to every one of these cities, it might not work out for everyone. But cities who go through this process with us will be more prepared for us or any provider who wants to build a fiber network. In fact, we want to give everyone a boost in their thinking about how to bring fiber to their communities; we plan to share what we learn in these 34 cities, and in the meantime you can check out some tips in a recent guest post on the Google Fiber blog by industry expert Joanne Hovis. Stay tuned for updates, and we hope this news inspires more communities across America to take steps to get to a gig.'
Posted by Milo Medin, VP, Google Access Services
--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York
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