San Francisco is next on the list of cities that will get the highly anticipated Google Fiber, as the tech company aims to use existing fiber-optic cables beneath the city.
Michael Slinger, director of business operations at Google Fiber, says that high-speed Internet access is about to come to "some apartments, condos and affordable housing properties" in the West Coast enclave.
In spite of being one of the blooming technology hubs and early adoption points for Silicon Valley, the city does not host a Web access infrastructure more powerful than most of the U.S. What is more, some smaller urban settlements already have fiber-optic Gigabit connections which offer speeds ten times higher than those present in today's San Francisco.
Google Fiber aims to change this situation, but its modus operandi will be slightly different when compared to other cities who received the ultra-fast infrastructure. The plan is to tap into the present optic fiber that lies beneath San Francisco, instead of deploying an entirely new network, Google explains on its Fiber blog.
On the bright side, this will make lightning-speed fast connections possible in a timely fashion. On the other hand, only parts of San Francisco have the existing infrastructure, meaning that the availability of Google Fiber will be restricted to a few areas.
Even if the impact will be localized, this can still convince rival providers to drop broadband prices for those that do not have access to Google Fiber.
"They have to be a credible threat to get Comcast, AT&T and so on, to make change," says Blair Levin, a senior fellow at a Brookings Institution, a research firm.
Levin estimates that in a few years, some American citizens will be able to choose between three or four broadband options going toe-to-toe.
There is a social component to Google Fiber's expansion, as well.
The company aims to link a part of San Francisco's public and affordable housing properties for no extra charge. The initiative should offer poorer neighborhoods access to broadband speeds, thus tightening a social wedge.
Also, Google partnered with an NGO to teach people basic Internet skills, such as applying for jobs and creating an email account.
In an ironic twist, San Francisco dwellers might get Google Fiber before citizens from Mountain View, California. The joke here is that the latter is where Google's headquarters are located.
Photo: William Welch | Flickr