Huntsville, Alabama Mayor Tommy Battle announced today that Google Fiber is coming to the southern city at the heart of the “Silicon Southeast,” reports TechCrunch. The highly sought after fiber optic internet service, Google Fiber, has become the envy of many U.S. cities, including Portland and Chicago, which have campaigned for the service in the past. Huntsville, Alabama, might not be synonymous with technology in the same way that Seattle and San Francisco are, but it serves an important role in Google’s overall Google Fiber strategy.
Google Fiber comes to Huntsville as part of a unique deal with the city’s utility providers, a first for Google, which may have important ramifications down the line when the service launches in a few larger metropolitan areas. The deal includes Google Fiber service as part of the city’s existing infrastructure, which already includes the necessary fiber optic cables.
Google noted in its announcement today that every city they’ve chosen for their enviable Fiber service is different and unique in some way. That’s the approach fueling their slow and steady roll-out of Google Fiber. Instead of jumping into the deep end and providing fiber service everywhere all at once, Google has moved at something of a glacial pace, carefully selecting cities that will provide unique test cases – unique problems to overcome – for the gigabit internet service.
“We’ve built the majority of our Google Fiber networks from scratch. Over the past five years we’ve repeatedly seen that every city is unique – in Provo our google fiber service is being delivered over a network we purchased from the city. In Atlanta, we’re constructing our own network,” reads the announcement from Google this morning.
The roll-out of Google Fiber to Huntsville is, like all previous roll-outs, a test case, they’re partnering with the city’s utility providers in order to test what’s possible with ultra-high internet speeds in a municipal setting with a high concentration of demand. Huntsville boasts the highest concentration of engineers in the U.S., Google claims, and ranks among the best cities in the country for STEM graduates to find jobs. This burgeoning Silicon Southeast is a perfect testing ground for Google Fiber. It’s a unique partnership with the city and an incredibly high demand from customers and from area businesses will let Google see what their service is really capable of and, perhaps most importantly, what it’s not.
“Huntsville Utilities will design and construct its network, once the network is built Google Fiber – or any other broadband provider – will be able to bring high speed internet service to the city,” reads the statement from Google.
It’s a unique situation, Google doesn’t have any kind of exclusivity; the fiber infrastructure will belong to the city and be leased to different providers. So, potentially, we’re going to see how well Google Fiber can stack up to competitors operating on the same infrastructure, unlike in previous Google Fiber cities, where some amount of exclusivity was the norm.
“Google’s entrance into our market bolsters our high-tech legacy, energizes our entrepreneurs, tinkerers and engineers, and supports the high quality of life Huntsville is known for delivering,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
Huntsville, Alabama, will become the 10th city to offer Google Fiber service, but with the unique partnership with Google, the city-owned fiber optic network stands to be home to some strong competition between local internet service providers. That competition, says the Huntsville mayor, will only be a boon for the local economy and an added bonus for STEM graduates and engineers who may have been eying a job in the Rocket City.
“Fiber to the home is the internet infrastructure for the 21st century. It’s as vital to our quality of life as roads, water, sewer, and electricity,” stated Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.
[Image via Google]