It’s been one year since Google Fiber officially launched in Kansas City. Provo, Utah was right behind Kansas City as the next place for Google Fiber to be installed. One of the goals, according to an INC article, of the lightning fast Internet is to “spark a surge in the region’s start up activity.” So, has Google Fiber helped the two cities it’s launched in so far?
Let’s take a look at the progress one year in to see if Google Fiber is living up to the hype.
How are Provo and Kansas City doing with Google Fiber?
Just a year in and both Kansas City and Provo are seeing great progress with the Google Fiber installation. Both cities are seeing signups for residential areas and marketing offices open to help people understand what Google Fiber offers. While people in the surrounding areas are seeing the Google trucks, offices, and marketing materials around, Google Fiber hasn’t come without its own struggles.
In Kansas City, the construction required to implement an Internet network of this size is a major complaint. On any given day, there are about 1,000 workers around the city climbing utility poles, stringing cables, or digging and burying lines. Sometimes, this work leaves trees hacked or electrical, cable, telephone, or natural gas lines cut. The construction work will eventually end and once it does, Kansas City will be one of only a few American markets that can brag about such broad broadband.
Residential customers are also running into some hassles. When people head into the Fiber Centers to see what the service is all about, many are excited. However, there is the obstacle of being under contract with a current provider. Customers want to switch to Google Fiber to enjoy the network speed, but they have to wait until their contracts expire with DISH, AT&T, or other cable and Internet providers.
Some customers are also concerned about the lack of some of their favorite cable channels, such as ESPN. With Google Fiber, customers currently can’t access ESPN, Comedy Central, HBO, or Disney. In addition, the lack of a landline IP option is concerning for some customers. Mobile phones can be used with Google Fiber, but for customers with alarm systems that connect to a landline, switching to a different service could be a hassle.
Anything new takes some time to get used to and always comes with a few obstacles. However, already both Kansas City and Provo are seeing some positive outcomes from Google Fiber. In Provo, 25 nonprofit organizations have received the one-gigabit service for free. The Google Fiber Community Connections program aims to help the community, including nonprofit organizations.
Another positive to come from Google Fiber is the sheer speed and accessibility. There are three options to choose from. The first is a 5-megabit connection and is free for seven years. The next option is a terabyte of cloud storage and a 1-gigabit connection that starts at $70. A third option is the cloud storage and 1-gigabit connection with a TV package for $120 a month. For many people, fast, affordable Internet will open doors and opportunities that haven’t been available before.
Devin Baer, head of marketing and sales for Google Fiber Provo says, “People who haven’t been able to afford Internet before can now get access. Studies have shown that when people are connected to the Internet, students are far more likely to finish high school and go to college. It spurs local jobs and the local economy.”
Why Provo and Kansas City?
Some wonder why the Silicon Valley giant choose Provo and Kansas City to test Google Fiber, instead of larger cities, like San Francisco or New York City. Google looks in three main areas when considering a city for Google Fiber:
- Is the city business friendly?
- How does the city rank as a location for businesses and a place to live?
- Does the city value connectivity and community?
When choosing Kansas City, Google wanted to find a place where they could build efficiently and quickly. Kansas City already had a great infrastructure in place that would be easy to build upon. Kansas City also had conduit in that avoided having to tear streets apart or do excessive amounts of construction.
Google also wanted to have an impact on the local economy and build a relationship with city leaders and local organizations. City officials didn’t give Google any tax breaks, but they did offer access to public rights of way and sped up the permit process. The city also provided a space for Google marketing and public relations.
Provo had a big plus already in place that enticed Google to test in the city. The existing iProvo network is a massive fiber-optic network that extends through most of the city. The city and Google agreed to a purchase of the existing network for $1, while requiring that Google upgrade the network and offer free gigabit service to at least 25 public institutions in the area.
Provo also ranks high on the start up scene and is currently ranked No. 2 for the number of patents granted. In addition, Provo has a vibrant technology scene, is consistently ranked as one of the best places to live and build a business, and the city places high value on connectivity and community.
Is your city next?
Where is Google Fiber headed next? Austin, TX has already been announced as the next place for the network to expand, but what about other cities around the country? Let’s take a look at the top 5 cities that could be on Google’s radar.
- Portland, Oregon has a strong community and entrepreneur spirit. Artists, writers, and small business owners have flocked to the city for years because of the friendly business atmosphere. Portland is ranked high in areas such as starting a business, zoning, and training programs. Portland is also home to big-name businesses like Nike, Adidas, and Janrain. Portland is all about connecting and building relationships. The community is built on people with generous hearts and kind people who want to help each other out. The city is home to The Oregon Public House, the world’s first nonprofit that donates 100% of profits to other nonprofits in the area.
- Salt Lake City, UT is about 30 minutes north of Provo, so it seems logical for Google Fiber to expand there. Salt Lake City and surrounding areas are often ranked as some of the top places to live in the country with low crime rate, outdoor activities, and friendly communities. The city has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation and is ranked Number two for best cities for job seekers.
- Raleigh, North Carolina is ranked Number 1 by Business Week as Best Place to Live. The city anchors the “Research Triangle” which consists of North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The city also has good schools and an active social scene. In addition, Forbes ranks Raleigh Number three as best places for business. Major industries include technology, health care, and education.
- Sticking in North Carolina, Charlotte is another possible city for Google Fiber. Forbes ranks Charlotte as number 19 for best places to live and work. Charlotte has recently become a major U.S. financial center, second only to New York City. The city is also kind to start-ups. Charlotte is home to a young and educated workforce, strong business center, and a warm year-round climate.
- San Jose, California seems like a logical choice since San Jose is the heart of Silicon Valley (and is Google’s backyard). Silicon Valley tends to be an expensive place to live and work, yet San Jose continually ranks high as one of the best places to work in the country. San Jose is ranked by Forbes as Number 41 among best places for business and careers, with technology and education being the main industries. The area has a large concentration of computer, microprocessor, and high-technology engineering companies. Berkeley and Stanford also send thousands of computer science and engineering graduates into the local economy each year.
Where will Google Fiber go next? It appears that cities already enjoying the network are seeing positive signs. Many cities around the country welcome the opportunity to give Google Fiber a home. Will your city be next?
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