I have some bad news for most of you. Google Fiber isn’t coming to your home town anytime soon. Unless you live in Provo, Austin, or near Kansas City your chances of having access to Google’s low-cost, super fast fiber optic internet and TV service are very small. Google is an advertising company and providing an internet connection to a small number of customers will give it invaluable information about how people use Google’s core services as well as a glimpse into the future of the internet as more and more people have access to incredible amounts of cheap bandwidth. But Google is not an ISP and unless Google finds a lot of very valuable data from its test markets, or unless Google Fiber turns out to be much more profitable than most analysts expect, Google is unlikely do invest in a national fiber optic network.
Do not despair, there is still hope. Google Fiber is still small enough that Google probably doesn’t have a diverse enough customer base to get all the data it will need. There is no telling when, but there is a good chance that Google will expand it’s fiber optic network in the not-to-distant future. How can you make sure your city is on Google’s short list?
In Provo, Utah Google isn’t starting from scratch. Provo had funded the construction of a fiber optic network and but had failed to find a company capable of running it. Most of the grunt work had already been done. It is rare that I find myself recommending government action as the solution to a problem, but if your local municipality lays fiber optic cable the biggest hurdle will already have been overcome. Even if Google doesn’t take the bait AT&T and Verizon are both investing heavily in fiber optic networks and your town is nearly certain to be a prime candidate for bids from either of those companies.
The unfortunate reality is that most city and state governments are nearly broke these days. Although the economy is bouncing back the recovery has been frustratingly slow. However, over the next couple of years as more people find jobs and businesses grow the tax base that local governments depend on will return. By that time there will be lots of solid data to show how Kansas City, Austin and Provo have benefited economically from having an affordable fiber optic network widely available; and if Google Fiber turns out to be the spark that starts a local economic boom, your city council might just start to listen to you. It is a long shot, but who knows maybe your town will be next.