AUSTIN (KXAN) — One of the biggest necessities for families trying to survive the last 10 months is access to reliable technology.
“The pandemic has certainly underscored the importance of having great high-speed internet,” said Daniel Lucio, government and communications affairs manager for Google Fiber in Austin.
With school and work happening under one roof for many people, Lucio said the company has seen an increased need for speed. At the start of the pandemic, he said Google Fiber had about a 10% uptick in network traffic.
The company continues to expand its gigabit service but will not give specifics on how many households have access to the fiber service, exactly where they’re located or share a date for when it will be available to all of Austin.
“If you would’ve asked me this a few years ago, I would’ve probably said [it would be everywhere] by now,” said Lucio. “But because we’re building a network from scratch it really does take time to do it.”
After about five years of building, Lucio said the service is available to “a good chunk of Austin.”
He said Google fiber lines have been added to south Austin and west to Circle C. It’s recently been added to east and central Austin, according to Lucio, which includes the Hyde Park and Allandale neighborhoods. He said crews are now moving north.
Google Fiber is also testing out a new, faster 2G service in Austin Lucio said could be available to more customers next year. It’s currently available in Nashville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama.
In a statement, AT&T said it is adding capacity when and where it’s needed, but Austin customers report its fiber service is still unavailable in some areas.
A spokesperson with Charter Communications said Spectrum currently provides residential internet service in Austin with a minimum speed of 200 Mbps up to 1 Gig but was unable to provide market-specific business data.
Spectrum’s high-speed options have been offered free of charge for a month to new customers who have students learning from home. Google Fiber said it, too, has been working with local schools and nonprofits to increase internet and device access to families who need it.
There are also smaller, independent fiber network providers in Texas like Logix Fiber Networks who are fully devoted to businesses. Logix chief sales and marketing officer Scott Brueggeman said the massive switch to remote work has caused the company to start offering more in the way of cloud services to enable employees to be just as productive working at home.
“Prior to the pandemic we saw a pretty solid migration to those cloud applications,” said Brueggeman. “Now I think it’s been turbo charged.”