AUSTIN (KXAN) - Google and Austin city officials are expected to announce next week that Austin will be selected as the next city to receive Google Fiber, an ultra-highspeed "gigabit broadband" Internet service.
An event scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m. says that "the City of Austin and Google will make a very important announcement that will have a positive impact on Austinites and the future of the city."
City officials and Google are not commenting on whether Google Fiber is coming to Austin at this time.
More than 100 community leaders and elected officials are expected to be in attendance to celebrate the announcement Tuesday.
Google Fiber was first introduced in Kansas City last September. That community was selected from a list of more than 1,100 applicants in 2011.
According to Google, the product offers a connection speed 100 times faster than today's broadband.
Three years ago, the city tried for Google Fiber the first time it was offered and lost out. For some here in Austin, it's been a long wait.
Austin community tech entrepreneur Chip Rosenthal spearheaded a valiant campaign in 2010. You can still see the video campaign at biggigaustin.org .
Friday, Rosenthal told KXAN he is more excited than ever about gigabit broadband.
"I think one of the big differences between now and several years ago, is back then, there were a lot of questions, said Rosenthal, who sits on Austin's citizen-based Community Technology and Telecommunication Commission .
One thing you can now do with Internet 100 times the speed of current broadband is download high definition movies in about five minutes.
Since Austin owns its own power company, Austin Energy, it's possible fiber lines could be strung on existing power poles. That is the method Kansas City is using to provide service to its customers. Google's fiber blog says there are plans to expand in that metro area.
Rosenthal said in that city, the philosophy of 'build it and they will come' seems to be proving itself.
"We're seeing groups, houses being formed, people coming into work and innovate around this gigabit fiber network," he said.
In Austin, some of the innovation might come from the student start-up community at a technology incubator affiliated with the University of Texas. For example, ATI's Kyle Cox told KXAN there are students who could capitalize on Google's bigger, less costly pipeline for an app in development that transmits complex medical images straight to a mobile phone.
"It's the classic story, you're getting more for less," Cox said. "So, as a start up when you're worried about your expenses and keeping things down, that is always a good thing. The technologies that could be borne out of having gigabit Ethernet coming is unprecedented."
Rosenthal also pointed out Google has been conscious of deploying its fiber networks across communities, and into lower income areas. That is making fast internet access more democratic than ever in Google's 'fiberhoods.'
Currently, pricing in Kansas City can cost you as much as $120 a month for the fastest internet and TV package. For just the Gigabit Internet, services cost $70 per month.
Or, you could get an average speed internet for free.
If you choose the free option, you have to pay for a one-time $300 construction fee to install the fiber lines. The other plans would waive that cost, but require a contract of up to two years.
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