Saw this this afternoon! Can't wait until it happens!
By Peter Corbett
The Republic | azcentral.com
Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:49 PM
Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe would get citywide fiber-optic networks with Internet speeds of one gigabit — 100 times faster than basic broadband service — under a plan Google is exploring.
Google announced this morning the three Valley cities are among nearly three dozen cities in nine metro areas the Silicon Valley company is considering for its Google Fiber network.
Google’s high-speed fiber-optic network for residential use is already being developed in pilot projects in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, Utah. Residents are charged $70 monthly for Internet service and $120 for Internet with HD-television service.
Google would foot the cost for developing the network. The company would not disclose how much it would invest.
Mayors of the three cities said they are excited about the potential of the leap forward in technology and what it could mean for residents and economic development.
“This is a game-changer for residential service, for business and education,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “This will make us much more competitive for the kind of companies we want to attract.”
It would also help the cities bridge the so-called digital divide between the more affluent and less affluent by providing free basic Internet service at standard speeds to consumers, Stanton said.
Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe would join a growing list of U.S. cities that are upgrading from copper to fiber-optic lines for gigabit Internet service. The technology advance has been compared to the previous innovation to broadband service from dial-up.
Internet speeds are measured in how many bits per second of data can move along the network per second. The U.S. average is 9.8 megabits per second, ranking ninth globally, according to a report from Akamai, a content delivery network.
A gigabit is about 100 times faster than standard broadband service. Google said downloading a movie with its gigabit network takes about seven seconds compared with 11 minutes for broadband Internet service with a speed of 10 megabits per second.
Other Valley Internet providers report varying Internet speeds. CenturyLink says it offers 12 mbps and up to 40 mbps in some areas.
Cox lists download speeds of 25 mbps and upload speeds of 5 mbps.
“We all want a faster Web,” said Kevin Lo, Google Fiber general manager.
He noted that last week’s debut of the “House of Cards” second season on Netflix led to a surge of Twitter messages from viewers complaining about interruptions in the viewing experience and buffering of the streaming video.
The first step of improving service in Phoenix, Scottsdale and Tempe will involve engineers from Google meeting with key staff in each city to iron out plans and identifying any obstacles to the Google Fiber project, Lo said.
Not all the cities Google identified today will be selected for the next round of installation projects.
The other metro areas chosen for consideration are Atlanta, Nashville, San Antonio, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Portland, Ore., and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, both in North Carolina.
Google, which declined to say how many customers it has in Kansas City, Austin and Provo, has a mix of underground and above-ground fiber-optic lines. But it prefers above-ground lines because it does not have to tear up roads and disrupt traffic, according to a Google spokeswoman.
That could be an issue in the Valley since more new developments have underground utilities.
Stanton said Google has asked the cities to be open-minded about installing the lines above ground.
“We need to find the most efficient way to provide this service,” he said.
All three mayors said that Google has not asked for incentives or city investments in the projects.
“We want to show that we’re a city that’s open for business,” said Scottsdale Mayor Jim Lane in explaining his city’s willingness to work with Google and other tech companies.
“We want to make sure the impact is as small as we can make it” with construction along Scottsdale roads, he said.
Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said this latest opportunity to work with Google, Phoenix and Scottsdale is another example of his city improving its technology infrastructure.
Tempe was an innovator with citywide Wi-Fi service in 2006, he said.
Google Fiber manager Lo said it is difficult to project a timeline for installing the gigabit network since each city has different issues to work out.
“We will work with the cities between now and May to work on our engineering designs and see where things go from there,” he said.
Google announced its plans for a fiber-optic network in 2010 and had more than 1,100 cities express interest in the service.
Kansas City was chosen in March 2010 as the first pilot project. Google, based in Mountain View., Calif., started hooking up customers there in November 2012 and is still working to complete installation in some of the suburbs.
Google acquired a network in Provo and is working its way through neighborhoods there this year to hook up customers.
Google picked Austin in April 2013 and plans to start connecting customers there by the end of this year.
In Kansas City, Google Fiber’s basic Internet service at standard speeds will be free for the first seven years. Those customers will pay a $300 construction fee that can be paid for in monthly installments.
Ars Technica, a technology publication, reported that close to two dozen U.S. cities, including Burlington, Vt., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Seattle, are in various stages of installing fiber-optic gigabit networks.