Google Fiber poised for move into Silicon Valley

Google Fiber installation teams, such as this one in Provo, could soon be on the streets of San Jose(Credit: Google)

The center of the online universe may finally get the Internet speeds you’d expect it to have. According to reports from the San Jose Mercury News, Google is seeking permission from San Jose officials to build two "fiber huts," the first major step in bringing its 1 gigabit-per-second Google Fiber to the city. It would be the largest city, and the first in California, to so far offer the lightning-fast fiber optic Internet service.

Fiber huts are shed-like structures that form the backbone of the Google Fiber network, with city documents showing at least eight additional fiber huts are planned for construction. The project calls for 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of fiber optic cable, with 960 (1,545 km) above ground and 1,340 (2,155 km) below. Existing roads, underground water, gas and electricity lines and utility poles will be used to build out the network.

Google has been tight-lipped about its San Jose expansion, but city officials say an official announcement could come as soon as November. The exact timing on when the service would be available is still unknown, as are details on the type of service and prices to be offered. Google Fiber typically starts in select neighborhoods where demand is high, which it calls "fiberhoods."

In cities that currently offer Google Fiber, the service typically comes in three levels. The top service is US$130 per month and includes 1 gigabit Internet and over 150 HDTV channels, while the mid-level at $70 per month is for Internet alone. A basic service is free with 5 mbps download and 1 mbps upload speeds, but requires a $300 one-time construction fee.

For comparison, the 1,000 megabits per second of Google Fiber is 4x faster than its closest competitor – Comcast’s 250 megabits per second, while AT&T offers 18 megabits. Those two companies plan on rolling out their own major upgrades sometime soon. AT&T’s GigaPower will equal Google Fiber at 1 gigabit, and Comcast’s 2-gig launch will double it.

Google Fiber was launched in 2010 and began its first service in Kansas City in 2012, with subsequent expansion into Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah. Future expansions will include Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, Atlanta and Salt Lake City. The tech giant is also talking with officials in other Silicon Valley cities about setting up its service, including Palo Alto, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and its home base of Mountain View.

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