Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

After Kansas City, ISPs Watch Google's Austin Plans Closely

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Austin has been tapped by Google to be the second city in the U.S. to get Google Fiber, the search giant’s super fast gigabit internet service. Kansas City was the first city to dive in with Google. And it’s learned some lessons.

Some of Central Texas’ largest Internet providers also serve Kansas City, Missouri. Think Time Warner and AT&T, among others. Kansas City Assistant City Manager Rick Usher says as soon as word spread that Google was getting some deals –  waived fees, right-of-way access and more – his phone wouldn’t stop ringing.

“Those contacts came a few weeks, or in some of the cases, months after the agreement became clear,” said Usher, “and under Missouri law, we had to give them the same considerations.”

Now, Google Fiber is coming to Austin and in this case, large providers aren’t waiting to react. AT&T released a statement just a few minutes after Google’s announcement, saying it is “preared to build” a one gigabit network.

AT&T spokesperson Tracy King says the company wants the same waivers that Google gets.

“There’s a myriad of rules, regulations, policies. People in Austin know how difficult it is to remodel their own bathroom, think how difficult it might be to build the infrastructure that delivers the type of network that they want,” King says. She called some of the regulations “an unnecessary barrier to entry.”

The City of Austin says Google isn’t getting any type of incentive. City staff indicates such deals were not on the table, and add that they’re open to any proposal from other providers – like Time Warner.

Time Warner spokesperson Melissa Sorola says her company already provides the fastest Internet there is. “We started laying out the groundwork for high speed Internet in the mid- 1990’s,” Sorola says. “We have established roots in the community, as well, and have more than 1,000 employees who live, work and play here in Austin.”

For its part, Google promises Internet speeds 100 times faster than Austin gets right now. But it’s hard to tell. In Kansas City, the first customers won’t even have access to Google Fiber until this summer. Austin can’t expect Google Fiber to be unveiled until 2014.

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Related Content