Where will Google Fiber go next? You’ve heard the rumors, but don’t panic. Fiber is far from dead. Here’s a peek into Google’s plan to deliver 5G and where we think they’ll take it first.

Google has officially announced a halt to all fiber to the home development for the next six months, but this certainly isn’t the end of the road for Google’s gigabit internet service.

Google has filed a license with the FCC to begin testing fixed wireless in 24 cities across the country. The company is taking to the skies, hoping to utilize 5G technology to bring gigabit speeds without the messy bureaucracy that has made developing fiber for the home such a difficult endeavor.

If fixed wireless enables Google to move beyond their current city criteria, we believe some key areas could become the next lucky recipients of inexpensive gigabit internet.

We crunched the data and expanded beyond the current list of cities Google is exploring to see where fiber might go next. Our research revealed that each of the current Google Fiber cities share a set of interesting qualities such as:

  • Lack of Current Fiber Coverage & Speed: Google leans towards bringing fiber to cities that have less coverage than typical, where an affordable, fast internet can make a big impact in the community. They’ll also reap the benefits of plenty of potential subscribers with less competition.
  • High Education: Google buildouts so far have focused on cities with a higher than average level of college degrees.
  • High Income/Wealth: While Google has certainly shown a commitment to investing in underserved communities, this is a business so the focus needs to be on areas that can share the cost of a fiber buildout.

We combined these factors with the criteria we already know Google looks for in a city which include population size, proximity to a Google data center, and number of nearby Google Fiber cities to determine our top predictions for where Google will take its fixed wireless service.

Wondering if your city could be next on Google’s list? We’ve compiled the 10 best bets for where Google will go next so read on to see if your hometown made our cut.

10. Miami, Florida

miami-fl

Current Fiber Coverage: 30.45%

Avg. Speed: 33 Mbps

Median Home Price: High

Percentage of BAs: Average

 

There are some areas of Florida that might be more attractive to Google, such as Tampa or Jacksonville, where they’ve already indicated they’ll explore bringing fiber. But we chose Miami for one very good reason. Google Fiber is already in Miami, courtesy of their buyout of wireless provider Webpass earlier this year. Google intends to use Webpass’s technology and expertise to help them deliver gigabit speeds via fixed wireless, so it makes sense that they might finish building out the infrastructure in sunny Miami, where Webpass began.

Drawback: Miami already has a high percentage of fiber coverage and a lower rate of education than other Google Fiber cities.

9. Denver, Colorado

Current Fiber Coverage: 6.38%

Avg. Speed: 31 Mbps

Median Home Price: Very High

Percentage of BAs: Extremely High

 

Denver has the right demographics to attract Google interest, including the fact that they are a partner city for ConnectHome, a pilot program designed to bring high-speed internet to public housing. But there are a few caveats about this mile-high city that might make a fiber build difficult. The weather is a concern and renders digging virtually impossible during certain times of the year, but if Google can utilize fixed wireless, it removes some of that difficulty. Nearby Boulder has made the cut as one of the cities Google will attempt to deploy fixed wireless, so Denver’s prospects as an up-and-coming Gig city improve just by location.

Drawbacks: CenturyLink and Comcast present some speedy competition in the central neighborhoods of Denver.

 

8. St. Paul/Minneapolis, Minnesota

Current Fiber Coverage: 1.5% and 24%

Avg. Speed: 29 and 24 Mbps

Median Home Price: Very Low and Low

Percentage of BAs: High and Extremely High

 

Google has shown a preference in the past for twin cities like St.Paul and Minneapolis, where they can get more bang for their build-out buck. While CenturyLink does currently offer gig speeds to Minneapolis, it’s prohibitively expensive for most residents. Minneapolis is a well-educated city, with lots of start-ups and higher than average growth rate that presents a good opportunity for a Google expansion. Northern neighbor Duluth notoriously attempted to attract Google Fiber a few years back by offering to give every newly born citizen Google’s namesake. Fortunately for the future residents of Duluth, this attempt was not successful. Perhaps Minneapolis’s hipster vibe will be enough to seal the deal instead.

Drawbacks: Minnesota as a whole experiences some pretty extreme weather that might actually present difficulties for fixed wireless technology.

 

7. St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis downtown

Current Fiber Coverage: 1.15%

Avg. Speed: 42 Mbps

Median Home Price: Very Low

Percentage of BAs: High

 

Saint Louis may not be an obvious choice for Google Fiber, but its proximity to Kansas City makes it attractive. Until recently, it was not only the home of Charter Communications, who now owns Time Warner, but was also served by AT&Ts Gigablast. Neither Charter or Time Warner offer gig speeds and unfortunately for St. Louis residents, AT&T utilizes data caps. Caught between a rock and a hard place, St. Louis may soon get to turn to Google Fiber for their gigabit needs.

Drawback: The median home price in St. Louis is pretty depressed, so fiber may not be an affordable option for enough subscribers to make it worth Google’s while.

 

6. Seattle, Washington

City of Seattle

Current Fiber Coverage: 5.78%

Avg. Speed: 54 Mbps

Median Home Price: Extremely High

Percentage of BAs: Extremely High

 

Why doesn’t a start-up hub like Seattle already have Google Fiber? It’s a long and complicated story. Initially, city ordinances governing access were too strict to allow for the kind of build-out fiber needs. However, after significant pressure from residents, the Seattle city council applied to become a Google city and committed to working with the company to make the changes necessary to ensure they’d be welcomed with open arms. While they’ve yet to make Google’s list, Seattle has made several high-profile attempts to establish a fiber muni-network. Both “Gigabit Seattle,” “Gigabit Squared,” and the more recent “UPTUN” have failed to provide any progress in launching internet infrastructure.

Drawbacks: Seattle is home to Comcast and already enjoys some pretty zippy speeds courtesy of the cable giant.

 

5. Houston, Texas

Houston skyline cityscape

Current Fiber Coverage: 3.85%

Avg. Speed: 34 Mbps

Median Home price: Low

Percentage of BAs: Average

 

Is there a city in Texas Google Fiber isn’t in yet? Yep. And one of them is Houston. Houston enjoys much of the same business-friendly legislation that made buildouts in San Antonio and Austin so attractive, plus a slew of start-ups and businesses that would appreciate the talent being a gig city would attract. Given the size of the city, Houston has a relatively small fiber coverage area and pretty slow speeds, so it’s prime territory for Google; which means the “City of No Limits” may soon get to enjoy unfettered speeds courtesy of fixed wireless technology.

Drawbacks: Houston has a lower than average median home price, which might make it difficult to achieve subscriber numbers.

 

4. San Diego, California

Downtown San Diego

Current Fiber Coverage: 2.46%

Avg. Speed: 26 Mbps

Median Home price: Extremely High

Percentage of BAs: High

 

You’re probably not shocked to find San Diego on this list since Google announced it was exploring bringing fiber to this sunny metro area. But we believe it’s prime territory to become the next gig city because Google has already delved into nearby Orange County, specifically Irvine. While San Diego didn’t make the cut for cities testing fixed wireless, we think it’s a pretty safe bet it’ll be one of the first to get a nod from Google. It’ll probably come as a relief since residents have been strangling on slower than average internet speeds for decades.

Drawbacks: AT&T announced they were delivering Gigablast to San Diego residents by the end of summer 2016.

 

3. Chicago, Illinois

This is sunset in Chicago. The Skyline shot from Adler Planetarium On Lake Michigan.

Current Fiber Coverage: 28.3%

Avg. Speed: 35 Mbps

Median Home price: Low

Percentage of BAs: High

 

Google is also “exploring” Chicago and they’ve already promised to deliver gig speeds to public housing as part of a separate federal effort. “The Windy City” has recently been offered 2 GB speeds from Comcast, but at prices that are twice what Google Fiber charges. As the third largest city in America, Chicago would be the biggest yet to get Google Fiber, and it’s already been identified as part of the fixed wireless testing approved by the FCC. Move aside Comcast because the forecast for affordable fiber is looking pretty fantastic in Chicago.

Drawbacks: Chicago has a fairly large area of fiber coverage already, coupled with a low median home price.

 

2. Los Angeles, California

Los Angeles

Current Fiber Coverage: 9.04%

Avg. Speed: 46 Mbps

Median Home price: Extremely High

Percentage of BAs: High

 

“The City of Angels” has been struggling with a drought when to comes to internet speeds for decades. As the second largest city in America, they should be enjoying some attention from big providers like Time Warner Cable and AT&T, who have been promising gigabit speeds but failed to deliver them consistently to large areas of the city. Los Angeles is one of the cities where Google is testing fixed wireless so while it seems farfetched that 3.8 million people might suddenly receive Google Fiber, it’s looking more and more likely for LA.

Drawbacks: LA already has a few potential partners in their dance to get gigabit internet, coupled with a larger area of fiber coverage than many cities on this list enjoy.

 

1. Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix skyline

Current Fiber Coverage: 3.61%

Avg. Speed: 43 Mbps

Median Home price: Low

Percentage of BAs: Low

 

On the surface of things, Phoenix doesn’t seem the likeliest of contenders to top our list. Besides being one of the cities where fixed wireless is being tested, whatelse does this city offer? Location, location, location. Phoenix is close to nearby Tempe and Scottsdale, where Google has already committed to exploring a build-out. The entire area is a start-up hotbed and having the nearby Arizona State University in Tempe, named America’s most innovative school, gives Google plenty of talent to draw from as they construct their next fiber city.

Drawbacks: Cox Communications sued Tempe when they entered into an agreement with Google, citing that development would violate their contract with the city.

 

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