Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell: Being The 2nd Google Fiber City Will Be An Advantage

Earlier today, Google announced that it would bring its gigabit Google Fiber Internet service and Google Fiber TV with about 200 HD channels to Austin, Texas, by the middle of 2014. After the event, Google hosted a phone call with press and analysts to discuss the announcement in more detail.

During the call, Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell reiterated that the city reapplied for Fiber after it lost out to Kansas City in the first round. He said that he believes Fiber will be a major driver for the city’s economy in the long run and that Austin will benefit from what Google learned by rolling out Fiber in Kansas City first. “It’ll be good for everybody involved. It’ll make Austin a much more attractive city for those who want to bring their businesses to Austin.”

Leffingwell also stressed that the city did not provide any monetary incentives to get Google to roll out Fiber in Austin.

Kevin Lo, Google’s general manager for Fiber, also stressed that Google is doing this as a part of its strategy to make early investments in Internet technologies. Thanks to its efforts in Kansas City and Austin, he also argued, many cities now talk about getting gigabit Internet access to their cities.

There is clear customer demand for these gigabit networks, Lo stressed. More than 90 percent of the original Kansas City fiberhoods met their sign-up thresholds. There, Google is ramping up the rollout and is currently working in 40 percent of its fiberhoods already and has finished work in 10 neighborhoods.

Fiber In Austin: Similar To What’s Now Available In Kansas City, But Not The Same

As for the products that will roll out in Austin, Lo pointed out that Google plans to roll out a service that will be similar to what it is currently offering in Kansas City (including the free offering it makes available in Kansas City), but the exact details and the pricing will likely be somewhat different. So far, Google argues, the company hasn’t done enough engineering work to nail down all the details.

What Google is rolling out today is just a starting point, Lo noted. The company’s objective is to roll out as fast as possible, but Google is focused on what “users, entrepreneurs, companies and business will do with a gig,” so it wants to on-board users as fast as possible. Google, Lo said, wants to be very transparent about the process.