Google Fiber is heading close to home for its next location: San Francisco. Google announced this morning that it intends to bring its fast gigabit internet to "a portion of San Francisco," specifically to apartments, condos, and affordable housing units. Details on exactly where and when are nonexistent for now, and Google suggests that we may be waiting a while to hear more.
Google will rely on existing fiber networks
What Google Fiber does say is that it won't be building out its own network in San Francisco, as it's done in many other cities. Instead, it'll rely on existing fiber networks to provide its service. That may limit what Google can do and where it can go, but it also means a much faster path to launch. "To date, we’ve focused mostly on building fiber-optic networks from scratch," Michael Slinger, Google Fiber's business operations director, writes in a blog post. "Now, as Google Fiber grows, we’re looking for more ways to serve cities of different shapes and sizes." Google Fiber is already taking this approach in a couple other markets, including Huntsville, Alabama, where earlier this week it announced plans to launch using the city's municipal network.
As it's done elsewhere, Google Fiber plans to provide free gigabit internet service to "some public and affordable housing properties" in San Francisco. It's also working with a nonprofit to teach people basic internet skills, like setting up an email account and applying for jobs.
Though it may not have plans to blanket the entire city, any launch in San Francisco is a big step for Google Fiber. The running theory has been that as gigabit internet becomes available, businesses will find new uses for it in the same way that Netflix found a use for high-speed internet. By putting fiber in Silicon Valley's reach, Google will almost certainly help to prime the market as San Francisco's hordes of tech entrepreneurs come online at much faster speeds and devise clever ways to put it to use. And the better news is that Google isn't going to be alone: AT&T and Comcast have both announced plans to launch gigabit service in San Francisco.