Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Pardon Our Dust in Austin

Hey Austin, have you seen us around town lately? Our Google Fiber crews are now in the process of building a high-speed network that will one day include more than 3,000 miles of brand new, state-of-the-art fiber optic cables — enough to stretch across the longest Interstate highway in the U.S. (or from Boston to Seattle).

Since we don’t use any existing copper cables, we’ve been planning and designing our network from scratch. Today we have a detailed network plan in place and our crews are hard at work constructing the network, starting with the core infrastructure that will form the foundation of Google Fiber in Austin.

Over time, our network will grow to thousands of miles of fiber, stretching through underground conduit as well as across utility poles. That’s why we have crews that specialize in both underground and aerial construction — here’s a peek at what they’re doing today.

Our underground crews operate powerful drills that can tunnel through Austin’s limestone, guiding a bore head through the earth to create an underground path for our conduit, then running fiber through the conduit. While we wish we had x-ray vision (we're working on it!), our crew members work hard as a team to avoid existing infrastructure and utilities, calling in “locates” with Texas 811 and using everything from detailed city diagrams to sonar detection to help.

Meanwhile, aerial crews are doing work across thousands of Austin utility poles, reconfiguring communications and power lines to ensure we have room for our fiber. This work allows us to use existing infrastructure and avoid additional underground construction, which tends to be more disruptive to the community.
A steerable bore head helps create the path to run fiber underground

Making room for Google Fiber on Austin's utility poles
Underground or in the air, pardon our dust — in order to bring Google Fiber to a city, a whole lot of heavy lifting has to happen! We are working to build our fiber network in Austin with as much efficiency and as little disruption as possible, but this size of a construction effort is bound to affect a few Austinites day-to-day.

Longer term, we hope this infrastructure will play a big role in the city’s future. Gigabit Internet speeds will open up new possibilities for the way we use the Web, and Austin is well on its way to showing the world how it thinks big with a gig.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Gigabit Enthusiasm: an economic reality

Ed. Note: we’re often asked about the economic impact of fiber networks — what does a gig really do for a local economy? To help answer your questions, we have a guest post from Heather Burnett Gold, President of the Fiber to the Home Council Americas, and Dr. David Sosa, a Principal at the Analysis Group. Today they are sharing the findings of a first-of-its-kind research report on the economic impact of fiber-to-the-home networks in U.S. communities.

While many people think of gigabit internet as essential to the future of the Web, others have wondered if these fiber networks just might be too fast, too soon. Based on early evidence of the economic impact of fiber-fed, gigabit services, we believe that the time for gigabit skepticism is over.

Today the Fiber-to-the-Home Council Americas (FTTH Council) released a first-of-its-kind study — Early Evidence Suggests Gigabit Broadband Drives GDP — which looked at 55 communities in 9 states and found a positive impact on economic activity in the 14 communities where gigabit Internet services are widely available. In fact, these gigabit broadband communities exhibited a per capita GDP approximately 1.1 percent higher than the 41 similar communities with little to no availability of gigabit services.

This may not sound like much but consider this: in dollar terms, our research suggests that the 14 gigabit broadband communities studied enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP when gigabit broadband became widely available. (That’s enough money to buy the Buffalo Bills — if you wanted to).

Our study suggests that as gigabit services become available in more communities, the impact on economies and consumers is likely to be substantial. Indeed, if the 41 communities in our study without gigabit broadband were to adopt the new service, they could expect as much as $3.3 billion in incremental GDP. And we are not alone in this perspective; the ratings agency Fitch underscored this point when it upgraded Kansas City, Missouri’s bond ratings, noting that the gigabit to the home fiber network “[…] has the potential to make a significant economic impact.”

The deployment of widespread ultra-high bandwidth broadband offers great promise for our economic future, similar to the way that access to abundant electricity transformed the country, lighting up factories to produce affordable consumer goods and automobiles for transportation. The availability of electricity spurred an era of high productivity and economic growth. And now, we are beginning to see that access to abundant bandwidth is likely to have a similarly positive impact on our economy.

Widespread gigabit availability contributes to the economy in multiple ways. Investment in physical infrastructure and labor creates jobs and increases expenditures into inputs like electronics and fiber optic cable. But next generation broadband infrastructure can also shift economic activity, sparking local tech scenes and the relocation of businesses. Claris Networks moved its data center operations from Knoxville to Chattanooga to take advantage of its fiber network. Lafayette's network attracted Hollywood special effects company Pixel Magic to the community, because the high performance gigabit network lets Pixel Magic move computer files back and forth between Lafayette and California quickly. And from the Hacker House in Kansas City to Fargo’s Startup House in Fargo, North Dakota, local entrepreneurs are using gigabit networks to develop new applications and services, bringing in new investment and talent along the way.

In the last several years, communities, their leaders and several private companies have made moves to stimulate and support our economy by upgrading our networks to gigabit capabilities. They, and we, remain gigabit enthusiasts, willing to welcome the skeptics to help us make gigabit communities a priority.

Posted by Heather Burnett Gold, the FTTH Council and Dr. David Sosa, the Analysis Group

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A World Record for Provo

Kissing puppies and llamas, painting bricks for a local art project, shooting free throws at the rec center, donating canned goods, and performing on a karaoke stage: all of this (and much more!) was part of a historic day this past weekend in Provo, Utah.

Google Fiber joined the broader Provo community in an effort to shatter the official world record for the largest scavenger hunt, as determined by Guinness World Records. And shatter it the city did — the previous record of 924 is history, with a total of 2,079 “hunters” finishing the Passport to Provo challenge on Saturday, September 13.

Along with Provo Mayor John Curtis, Downtown Provo and Cotopaxi (a local outdoor gear and apparel company), Google Fiber supported the event to help bring together thousands of Provoans to explore and celebrate their downtown.
Mayor John Curtis rallies Provo hunters while Guinness World Records looks on
Under the watchful eye of Annie, our judge from Guinness World Records, teams of hunters — groups of families, friends and students — filled Provo streets, businesses, nonprofit organizations, community parks and historical landmarks to complete the challenge.

Hunters completed at least 15 tasks from categories such as Downtown Culture, Quirky and Fun, Outdoor and Adventure, Community Service and Local Business. The event ended with a party with performances by local Provo talent.

Watch this video to see all the fun and don’t forget: this week is the last chance for anyone in a Provo fiberhood to get Fiber for $30 — sign up by September 20th. After this wave of sign-ups and installations, our construction fee will increase from $30 to its usual $300 at our next sign-up opportunity.