Google explores fiber service in Los Angeles; AT&T launches its first fiber in LA

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

2 Huge U.S. Cities Added to Google Fiber Shortlist.

Google Fiber, Alphabet’s fast Internet service, said Tuesday it is planning to come to Los Angeles and Chicago, the second and third-largest U.S. cities by population, if they pass a long review. “While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to bring Fiber to Chicago and L.A., this is a big step for these cities and their leaders,” Jill Szuchmacher, director of Google Fiber’s expansion efforts, wrote in a blog. “Expansion planning for a project of this size is a huge undertaking.” There are now 20 cities where Google Fiber is providing service already, building its network or considering building, including Atlanta and Austin.Following successful rollouts in three markets — Kansas City; Austin; and Provo, Utah — Google is now getting ready to light up its super-fast Onternet service in two of the biggest cities in the country: Chicago and Los Angeles.CHICAGO (CBS) — The prospect of blindingly fast internet speeds for Chicago took a step toward reality on Tuesday as Google invited the city to consider adding the company’s fiber service.

Both cities would be the biggest markets for Google Fiber to date, and a build-out of networking infrastructure across Los Angeles could potentially take years. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Tuesday that Google Fiber, a subsidiary of Google parent company Alphabet Inc., is in talks with the city, with the company’s engineers exploring in the next few months the feasibility of a network in Los Angeles.

The company will now attempt to collect detailed information about both regions so it can study factors, like infrastructure and topography, that may affect a fiber network buildout. Google Fiber offers consumers internet access with speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second, which close to 70 times faster than speeds offered as part of Time Warner Cable’s current standard internet package.

The goal is to give newer businesses more freedom to invest while making them more accountable for their financial performance. “Google Fiber looking at big cities is a sign of greater aggressiveness,” said Blair Levin, who led broadband Internet initiatives at the Federal Communications Commission for several years. “It is ultimately going to have to stand on its on two feet, without the support it previously required from Alphabet. To do that, it needs a certain scale that requires a presence in a number of bigger cities.” The Fiber business is expensive because Google has to dig up roads to bury fiber-optic cable, or string it to utility poles, then hire marketers to woo customers.

It has plans to expand to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio and in September tapped three other cities — Louisville, San Diego, and Irvine, Calif. Google first started experimenting with providing internet access in Kansas City, Missouri in 2011, and has since expanded the service to 20 suburbs of that city as well as Austin, Texas, and Provo, Uta. The Eighth and Grand and Hanover Grand Avenue apartment complexes in downtown Los Angeles are the first to have access to the gigabit Internet speed service, while access is expected in areas in the rest of Los Angeles next year.

Google has created a detailed checklist to help city officials understand what it means to have a “very, very large-scale build going on (within) city limits,” Szuchmacher said. Evercore ISI analysts estimated recently that Fiber is worth $305 million, versus a total value for the main Google search business of about $450 billion. By announcing plans to build Internet service that is considerably faster than most existing services in the U.S., Google encourages other communications companies to upgrade their Internet services or lower prices. That increases the chances more people will get online more often and use Google’s other web services, such as Search, that make more money. “It’s a smart play from Google to offer consumers an alternative service,” said Michael Nathanson, an analyst at communications research firm MoffettNathanson. “It’s not a very profitable endeavor but keeps the competition in line.” L.A. already has a proposal out for a municipal broadband Internet service, and on Monday AT&T Inc. announced plans to bring its fastest Internet service to the city.

Chicago’s incubators, venture capital firms, and the mayor’s interest in innovation and promoting tech jobs made Google Fiber interested in pursuing the installation here, Szuchmacher said. “That’s the kind of excitement and intellectual curiosity and drive we think (signals) a great type of city and community that will really welcome us,” she said. Comcast currently offers high speed service, available to 2.4 million homes, with download speeds advertised at 2,000 megabits per second, according to Jack Segal, Comcast vice president of corporate communications in Chicago. More from WSJ.D: And make sure to visit WSJ.D for all of our news, personal tech coverage, analysis and more, and add our XML feed to your favorite reader.

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