Google Fiber May Be Coming To Phoenix, Tempe And Scottsdale

February 19, 2014

(Photo courtesy of http://fiber.google.com)
This map shows possible and current Google Fiber cities.

Imagine downloading a movie in full high-def in less than ten seconds. If you're one of the lucky few with Google Fiber, that's not imagination -- that's reality. Google announced yesterday the Phoenix metro area is one of nine being considered for an expansion of the tech company's ultra-high speed internet service -- but it's far from a done deal.

Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale are three of the 34 cities Google Fiber is looking to expand to. That would mean internet speeds up to 100 times faster for some Metro Phoenix residents. The average speed of an internet connection in the United States is 9.8 megabits per second, according to internet hosting giant Akamai.

Right now, Google Fiber is available in the Kansas City area and is rolling out in Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas.

The three Valley cities are in the first phase of the process with Google, which means completing a "fiber-ready" checklist by May to see what it would take to install the Fiber internet and TV service.

"That involves looking into streamlining the permitting process, helping us survey the area, which includes where existing utility lines are, gas lines, water lines, so that we can plan literally every inch of where we would lay fiber," said Google spokesperson Andrew Silvestri. "We've found in our other communities that a little planning goes a long way."

Silvestri said the company will simultaneously be doing its own report on the details and challenges of building the fiber network in Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale.

“There may be some unforeseeable challenges for construction maybe challenging hard soil where it would make it difficult to build on this level or scale," said Silvestri.

Internet speeds in the U.S. lag behind several European and Asian nations. So, has there been enough focus on getting broadband access to Arizonans?

"The answer is no," said Steven Zylstra, CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. "The reason I say that is that there are areas of our state who are not connected, including some schools."

Particularly, in the rural areas that make up much of Arizona. Zylstra said Google flaunting its fiber in metro Phoenix could be good for consumers.

"They are going to be disruptive to the existing carriers and it will put additional competitive pressures on them do more as well," Zylstra said.

Wired.com writer Klint Finley said that's starting to happen in a limited way. "CenturyLink, for example, has announced gigabit fiber in a few cities, like Omaha and Las Vegas."

But he said it's not clear whether they're serious efforts or, as one broadband expert calls it, "fiber to the press release."

"If there's only fiber going into one small, upscale neighborhood [and] it's not going citywide, then it's just being done for publicity and it's not a serious fiber upgrade," Finley said.

Silvestri said at the end of the year Google will decide which cities will move forward with construction. He said if building starts in 2015 residents should not expect service until 2017. Consumers would pay monthly rates much like in Kansas City: $120 a month for gigabit internet and TV or $70 a month for just the internet.


Updated 2/19/2014 at 10:14 p.m.