After rumors surfaced over the weekend about Google extending its gigabit network to Austin, Texas, the company has officially announced that it is, in fact, giving Google Fiber to the city, according to a statement on Tuesday, April 9.

Austin now joins the region of Kansas City, Kan. and Mo., as the second major city to receive ultra-high-speed Internet access from Google.

“We’re obviously a very tech-savvy city, so a lot of our citizens -- including myself -- would love to take advantage of higher bandwidth at lower cost,” said Teri Pennington, deputy CIO of Austin's Communications and Technology Management Department. “I think it’s also a huge impact to our ability to pull entrepreneurs into Austin, but we already have a lot. And what I’m really excited about is the fact that those small entrepreneurial companies can now really grow and expand the business.”

According to Google’s official Fiber Blog, the search giant hopes to begin connecting homes to the fiber network by mid-2014. And the city will work with Google to identify 100 public institutions that will receive free gigabit connections.

Residents will get to choose from a series of products similar to those available in Kansas City, which include gigabit Internet or gigabit Internet and Google Fiber TV service.

“It’s a mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism, with thriving artistic and tech communities, as well as the University of Texas and its new medical research hospital,” according to the blog. “We’re sure these folks will do amazing things with gigabit access, and we feel very privileged to have been welcomed to their community.”

And Austin is using Twitter to share its excitement about the news:

Pricing for the service is still being decided, however the model should be similar to pricing available in Kansas City.

As in Kansas City, Google plans to offer a free Internet connection at 5 Mbps for seven years under the condition they pay a one-time construction fee. Many public institutions in Austin -- schools, hospitals, community centers – will be connected to the gigabit network for no charge, according to the blog.

For Gig.U’s Executive Director Blair Levin, the focus of the Google Fiber project is not, “How do you deliver a gig?” but, “How do you deliver a gig at a reasonable price?” This means lowering the costs of deployment, operations and lowering risk.

Kansas City’s Google agreement, he said, complies with those factors, and Austin should be expected to hold a similar agreement as to that in Kansas City.

And based on what other cities, like Chattanooga, Tenn., have seen in their experience using ultra-fast Internet, Levin said the ability to have access to that kind of bandwidth will attract people to the area and will encourage them to be a part of that big bandwidth economy. As in Kansas City and Chattanooga, programmers and new talent will likely flock to Austin.

“Putting big bandwidth in communities that are research university towns – not only is better economics, but also drives innovation faster,” Levin said. “That’s a theory, but it’s based on a lot of history.”

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  | 

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. She wrote for for Government Technology magazine from 2010 through 2013.