Google just announced that they will be rolling out its flagship fiber-optic internet service to Austin via the most Google-y YouTube video ever. With the news, Twitter’s been abuzz with talk of Austin being the next Palo Alto. And interestingly enough, there’s been a rise in the “definitely moving to Austin” tweets.
What is Google Fiber?
Google Fiber is an internet service that utilizes fiber optic cables to carry information extremely quickly through light signals. Originally thought to be Google’s attempt to shame existing telecom companies into offering fiber optic internet, Google’s expansion of its Fiber program shows that it is serious about becoming a nationally-competitive internet service provider.
At around $70 per month for a 1 Gigabit connection (a connection speed 100 times faster than today’s average broadband speeds), Google Fiber will be much, much cheaper than current equivalent services.
Who’s getting the most excited about Google Fiber?
With the ability to transfer large amounts of data extremely quickly, Austin’s small but expanding game development scene is pretty darned excited.
So too is Austin’s medical community with their brand new University research hospital. They’ve expressed optimism that the service could allow for more efficient patient care — from doctors instantly sharing high resolution photos to get a quicker, collaborative diagnosis, to long distance clinic visits via Skype.
The University of Texas, with its ridiculously large super computer and subsequently huge amount of data, could see immediate benefits and has already started collaborating with cutting-edge technology companies. “Imagine how much better/faster we could serve our students, friends and community,” says Jennlynn Wang, a PhD student who works for the Department of Higher Education at UT.
But What about Non-Tech Businesses?
When Eugene Sepulveda of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Central Texas said that “people would be dancing in the streets” in response to the news, he couldn’t have been just talking about socks-and-sandals techies.
With the ability to share and upload huge amounts of data, anyone who works with music, film or photography (and there’s lots of them in Austin) must be nothing short of thrilled. As someone who has personally done long distance video editing, I can assure you of the horrors of regular broadband Internet access when you need something done in a flash.
I brought this concern to Ariel Dang-Tran, who wrote this awesome ode to Austin. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a florist, or if you sell balloon animals, customers are looking online to find what they need. And if you’re trying to convince them that your small business is what they need, it’s crucial for you to be online, too. If you can do it at speeds 100 times faster with Google Fiber, it just means more time you can spend actually interacting with customers, and less time waiting for your business’s promo video to upload.”
She definitely has a point. Google Fiber could supply the infrastructure that allows the smaller local Austin businesses link up with creatives to create the next generation of online presence.
And to paraphrase the folksy Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, we don’t really know what Google Fiber will do to Austin. Maybe it’ll just attract a load of *sigh* Californians. But a lot of really smart and savvy people are reeling at the possibilities that Fiber might create, and that’s something to get very excited about.
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