Google Fiber Coming To First Major U.S. City: San Francisco

Google Fiber in San Francisco

Google Fiber will soon be a reality in San Francisco. The high-speed internet and cable television service is coming home to the Silicon Valley, Google announced today.

Google’s gigabit internet service will allow users to surf the web at the speed of up to one gigabit per second, which is about a 100 times faster access than the average American broadband.

So, basically, Google Fiber is REALLY fast.

And it’s coming to “some apartments, condos, and affordable housing properties” in San Francisco, according to an official Google Update.

This is really a dive into the ocean for Google Fiber, which has been content as the big fish in the small ponds of 21 other relatively small cities like Provo, Utah; Kansas City; Nashville; San Antonio, Texas; and more recently, Huntsville, Alabama.

The tech capital is not only Google Fiber’s first big city, but it will also be one of the first Fiber cities in which it does not build a new fiber-optic cable network — it will rely instead on existing fiber.

“By using existing fiber to connect some apartments and condos, as we’ve done before, we can bring service to residents more quickly,” Google Fiber director of business operations Michael Slinger told Wired.

While Google has used existing wiring in their previous cases, they have never done so to this extent. There has always been some network building involved in the making of a “Fiber City.”

A complete dependence on existing fiber wiring is unprecedented in the Google Fiber Plan.

iber Optics Utility Sewer
The size of the city is another part of the San Francisco Project with no precedent. Again, San Francisco will be Google Fiber’s first major U.S. city.

While Google may be playing on home turf here in the Silicon Valley, a number of factors change when you’re in a big league, including the presence of competitors and a recalcitrance to change.

San Francisco is notorious for its resistance to change, especially change proposed by Google. In 2007, Google paired up with Earthlink to provide citywide WiFi, a municipal wireless system that ultimately failed to take shape, due to numerous technical and political failures, the Economist reports.

Hopefully, Google’s second attempt at providing internet to the city is more successful than the first.

Google Fiber Box
Google Fiber has thus far only worked in markets with no competitors. Cities like Provo, Utah, aren’t exactly hubs of technology.

San Francisco already has a number of gigabit internet providers, including Sonic and IndiGoGo. They do have less of a brand name, but they are more established in the area.

All of this only makes the announcement all the more exciting. Google is bringing Fiber home, but also wading into bigger ponds and taking bigger risks.

Also announced was Google’s partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) to bring the internet to those who are being oppressed by the technology gap in San Francisco. Part of Google’s plan with Fiber, it said, is “connecting some public and affordable housing properties to gigabit speed Internet—for free.”

So not only is the focus on San Francisco an exciting new venture, it’s partly a philanthropic one.

Google’s partnership with NTEN will also bring the Digital Inclusion Fellowship to the city, which will hire people to teach those not in the technology bubble how to set up an email account, apply for jobs online, and generally integrate them into the internet community.

All in all, Google Fiber is going to be bringing some exciting new changes to the tech capital from a super-fast internet alternative to the despised Comcast and gigabit competitors, to digital inclusion and internet affordability.

All to “serve a portion of San Francisco, complementing the city’s ongoing efforts to bring abundant, high-speed internet to the City by the Bay,” as Slinger said.

[Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images]