It’s Official: Austin Gets Google Fiber

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Google announced today that the city of Austin, Texas is getting Google Fiber. It will start connecting homes by the middle of 2014, letting citizens choose between just having the Internet service, or having both the Internet and Google Fiber TV service.

While the pricing isn’t set yet, the cost will be similar to the prices in Kansas City — the company’s first Google Fiber city — according to a blog post.

They’re planning to connect many public institutions in Austin— schools, hospitals, community centers, etc. — at a gigabit for no charge. Google hopes this new Google Fiber city will inspire communities across America to think about what ultrafast connectivity could mean for them.

Google suggests cities have a look at this video from the FCC’s March 2013 Workshop on Gigabit Community Broadband Networks for steps to create their own gigabit-powered future.

Google officials began an intensive round of talks with city officials about three months ago, reports the Austin Statesman. A key factor in selling Google on the city was Austin’s commitment to move fast in its approval process so Google could build quickly. That meant Austin Energy’s leadership had to be brought on board.

“I think we had to shed some of our traditional stodginess and show (Google) that we were going to be nimble and agile,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “Speed in something like this was key. There were no incentives (to the company) other than our cooperation and our best efforts to speed the process along. When you are dealing with today’s modern (technology) companies, that are used to moving really fast, you have to be able to speak their language. That is what they expected and that is what we had to deliver.”

Today’s announcement makes it easier for Google’s engineers to engage with city officials and begin planning the network and for the basic construction required for the network before the first customers are accounted.

Almost 97 percent of Texas households have access to high-speed Internet, but more than 250,000 households don’t have that option, according to the State of Texas which maps broadband access. The Texas Cable Association complained that the map demonstrates that federal tax dollars are being used in areas already served by broadband providers.

economITech says it took only moments for AT&T to react to the Google announcement saying that they too were deploying 1 Gigbit Fiber in the Austin.

Car Networking: Lots of Choices

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Researcher IHS says both wired and wireless networks are coming to cars. Backseat entertainment, infotainment systems, traffic displays, and safety applications are expected soon.

An automotive version of Ethernet might soon be available with support from key auto companies, IHS writes. The OPEN Alliance (One-Pair Ether-Net), wants to create a standard for connecting the various sub-systems in a vehicle with a single, unshielded twisted pair cable similar to the Ethernet line in your home.

BMW is building Ethernet AVB into its first pilot vehicles this year and next and plans to have a complete Ethernet-cabled car by 2020. The Media-Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) is a high-speed multimedia network optimized by the automotive industry. It can be used for applications inside or outside the car. IHS says other wired technologies include LVDS (Low-voltage differential signaling), APIX (Automotive pixel link), HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) and MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) are also vying for a spot in your car.

On the wireless side, a new Audi Connect plan costs $450, which includes 30 months of wireless data service from T-Mobile. That’s about 15 bucks a month. Deutsche Telekom is also working with BMW to embed Wi-Fi in vehicles, while Verizon is part of the LTE car consortium comprising BMW, Honda, Hyundai Motor Company, Kia Motors and Toyota.

Sprint and Chrysler are planning 3G, LTE and Wi-Fi connectivity, while General Motors, is holding off on embedded connectivity for now, instead relying on smartphones to interface. That’s similar to Ford’s pioneering Ford SYNC approach that enables your phone to provide in-vehicle connectivity.

Car manufacturers have developed a variety of telematics systems:

The Wireless Access for the Vehicular Environment (WAVE), is the primary standard that addresses and enhances Intelligent Transportation System.

NAB 2013

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The National Association of Broadcasters which advocates for continued free access to the public airwaves, unlike nearly all other users, is holding their annual show this week in Las Vegas.

A growing number of advertising consumers have stopped paying for cable and satellite TV and don’t even use an antenna to get free signals over the air. They watch shows on the Internet.

Last month, Nielsen started labeling people in this group “Zero TV” households. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007. Online video subscriptions from Netflix and Amazon — which cost less than $15 a month combined — deliver plenty to watch. Winning back the Zero TV crowd will be one of the many issues broadcasters discuss at their national meeting.

NAB’s chief lobbyist, Gordon Smith, delivered the annual NAB State of the Industry address today.

“For television, our future lies in our willingness to embrace new platforms, and to go where our viewers want to go,” said Smith. He told station owners today that they must redouble their efforts to persuade tech companies to build TV and radio receivers into smartphones.

Perhaps that could include deals with cellular providers like T-Mobile to utilize 600 MHz spectrum for 1-way broadcasting. A Washington Post article hinted at a new carrier push to minimize any “unlicensed” (read “free”) spectrum in the 600 MHz band.

T-Mobile’s 600 MHz position would minimize any “unlicensed” use of the spectrum, lobbying for 600 MHz interoperability, and pushed for spectrum caps.


T-Mobile’s plan would basically create 35 x 35 MHz of paired spectrum and seven paired 5 MHz blocks, limiting what the company contends are wasteful guard bands. Supplimental blocks could add to the downstream bandwidth, through carrier aggregation.

Like arms shows, the NAB is a great showplace for lots of interesting gadgets:

Broadcast Engineering, Broadcasting and Cable and TV Technology have more news.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Supports National White Space Networking , War 2.0 for Unlicensed Spectrum, Congressional Battle over Unlicensed Spectrum, target=new>FCC: TV Auction in 2014, Spectrum War: Unlicensed, Shared and Auctioned, White Space Radio using 802.11af Demoed,

Ericsson Buys Microsoft’s IPTV Business

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Ericsson has agreed to buy Microsoft’s Mediaroom IPTV business. Ericsson said it expects to close the deal during the second half of 2013. It did not disclose a purchase price. Microsoft said it will now dedicate all its TV resources to Xbox to delivers games and entertainment – whether on a console, phone, PC or tablet.

Ericsson said the deal would make the company, already the world’s biggest mobile networks maker, the leading provider of IPTV with a 25 percent market share.

It’s used in 22 million set-top boxes in 11 million households, Microsoft said. AT&T’s U-Verse accounts for about 4.5 million of those homes. The Mediaroom platform is offered by more than 40 operators.

Microsoft’s Mediaroom platform is a full-featured video platform for operators to deliver IPTV-based Pay-TV, including content-protected live, DVR, video on demand, and applications. It’s used by service providers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Telefonica and Swisscom.

Internet protocol television (IPTV) transmits multimedia content over telecom and cable networks. Ericsson wants to cater to phone companies that are competing with cable, satellite and web-based media providers. They are also a big supporter of LTE Broadcast, which multicasts television over cellular channels.

eMBMS is the LTE version of Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service. MPEG-DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP) works by breaking the content into a sequence of small HTTP-based file segments, each segment containing a short interval of playback time. The content is made available at a variety of different bit rates. As the content is played back, the client automatically selects content based on current network conditions.

Ericsson and Qualcomm demonstrated LTE Broadcast solutions at MWC this February. It’s part of the LTE-A standard and incorporates eMBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), as well as new compression chips utilizing HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding) which promises to halve the bandwidth required to transport video content using H.265 compression.

Intel’s cable-killing media project is getting rave reviews from the select few outsiders who have been able to see it, according to a report from Michael Learmonth in Ad Age.

Ericsson said the global IPTV market was estimated to reach 76 million subscribers in 2013 with revenues of $32 billion, growing to 105 million subscribers and $45 billion in 2015.

Global IPTV subscriptions are expected to pass the 100 million mark in 2013, according to Pyramid Research, and grow to 181.1 million in 2017.

Google could also be a player in IPTV.

Google is a huge advertising company. It also runs You Tube, has giant server farms, and has the technical chops to pull it off. Google might outbid cellular operators for 600MHz spectrum. Some might argue that cellular operators – like AT&T and Verizon – could kill off internet competitors by imposing archaic, voice-era, frequency division rules on the band. In effect, buying spectrum to waste it.

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Austin Likely Getting Google Fiber

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Google Fiber is coming to Austin, according to leaked press release, reports The Verge. Neither Google nor the City of Austin have announced the news.

Instead, Gig.U, which is described as a coalition of univeristies promoting the expansion of next-generation broadband technologies, released word of the Fiber expansion in a press release that was obtained by Engadget before being pulled down.

Today, Google announced it will add Austin, Texas to the Google Fiber project, joining Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri as American communities that have the power to bring next generation networks home. Gig.U, a coalition of three-dozen research university communities working together to support educational and economic development by accelerating the deployment of next generation networks.

Google and the City of Austin are expected to announce tomorrow, April 9, that Google Fiber will be coming to Austin, although both parties declined to provide details on what will be announced.

VentureBeat says the announcement could involve expanding Google’s gigabit broadband Fiber to Austin, or the city could announce plans for a new Austin-based Google campus, or even some partnership to involve the city with a new Google service.

Google Fiber launched in the Kansas City area back in July. Currently, Kansas City is the only Google Fiber location, but Google chairman Eric Schmidt has previously stated that this is not a side project for the company — implying that Google Fiber could launch elsewhere in the future.

Google is offering three different packages in Kansas City:

  • The Gigabit and Fiber TV service will cost $120 a month and will include 1Gbps connectivity on the upstream as well as downstream. There is no data cap. It also comes with 1 terabyte of Google Drive cloud storage. You’ll also get a brand new Nexus 7 tablet that you can use as your remote control.
  • Broadband, internet-only. It will cost $70 a month and offer 1Gbps downloads and uploads. It will also provide the 1 terabyte of data storage, as well as a network box for offering the service.
  • Free Internet. It is geared toward the 25 percent of the Kansas City area people who may not have broadband. It will be offered for a limited time for those who pay for the $300 fiber installation and and will include 5 Gbps download speeds and 1 Gpbs upload speeds for seven years.

Google has brought competition to the comfortable cable/phone duopoly of AT&T and Comcast. Xfinity Blast!, Comcast’s cable modem service, will now get download speeds of up to 50 Mbps (formerly 25 Mbps), and Extreme 50 customers will now receive speeds of up to 105 Mbps (formerly 50 Mbps). Blast! is $58.95/month multi-product or $72.95/month standalone. Extreme is $99.95/mo multi-product or $114.95/month standalone.

Time Warner Cable, the second-biggest cable company, offers a top rate of 50 megabits for $99.95.

Bernstein Research estimated that Google has spent around $87 million so far on fiber deployment, and that it could cost $11 billion to deploy 1 Gbps service to another 20 million homes. Some $38 million will go into Kansas City, Kan., and $46 million into Kansas City, Mo., with the cost per home respectively at $674 and $500.

Connecting those homes is another matter. A broadband-only service will cost Google $464; those taking double-play of broadband and pay-TV services will cost Google $794 to connect, says TechCrunch.

But, with the need for mobile carriers to supply broadband to thousands of small cells in cities across the nation, cities may be in the catbird seat. States are also installing fiber.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute provides underserved businesses, schools and municipalities with affordable broadband. Last week, Governor Deval Patrick lit the first section of a new 1,200-mile fiber-optic network that will bring high-speed Internet access to underserved areas of western and central Massachusetts. It’s the first segment of a new 1,200 mile MassBroadband 123 network bringing broadband to 51 out of 120 community institutions from Springfield to Sandisfield, Mass.

New York is testing a way to lay more fiber, partnering with Verizon, to use a technique called micro trenching, which digs narrow, shallow channels between sidewalks and street curbs. Verizon says the technique, typically used in suburban and rural areas, holds promise as a way to expand broadband capacity in urban areas.

The 12-month pilot, based on an agreement between Verizon and the city’s Department of Transportation and Department of IT, is intended to test the feasibility of micro trenching fiber cable throughout the city.

New York’s CityNet experienced interruptions in service, despite a system of redundant fiber optic rings. The $95 million CitiServ project has confounded agency officials, with DoITT struggling to migrate old systems into the new data center.

Outgoing FCC Chairman Julius Genachoski issued a “Gigabit City Challenge,” last month, calling for all 50 states to have at least one community with gigabit internet by 2015.

The FCC cited research from the Fiber to the Home Council, noting that there are currently only 42 communities across 14 states being served by ultra-high-speed fiber Internet providers. In the coming months the FTTH Council will be launching a series of initiatives aimed at helping all communities get ultra high speed broadband.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn announced that the City of Seattle has reached an agreement with broadband developer Gigabit Squared to develop and operate a fiber network for Seattle with speeds up to 1 Gbps.

The network, called Gigabit Seattle includes three pieces: Fiber directly to homes and business in twelve demonstration neighborhoods, along with dedicated gigabit broadband wireless connections to multifamily housing and offices across Seattle, and next generation wireless cloud services in its 12 neighborhoods.

Chicago was the first recipient of the Gigabit Neighborhood Gateway Program where the University of Chicago, communities like Woodlawn, state, city and county government, as well as hospitals and schools combined with the private equity to fund the Gigabit Squared project.

Chicago is trying to encourage private investment in completing a high-speed fiber ring that would link existing and emerging tech centers and provide free WiFi in parks.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has estimated it would cost $5 billion to $10 billion just to wire the nation’s “anchor institutions” with fiber-optic cable. Bringing fiber to every US home would cost in excess of $100 billion. According to a Goldman Sachs analyst, the cost of nationwide fiber-to-the-home is $140 billion.

Fiber cost Verizon about $4,000 per home to connect, before it halted FiOS buildout. Fiber to the Home generally costs consumers over $100 per month, with penetrations around 20%.

Of course the cheapest route to broadband is wireless.

The wireless spectrum with the longest range and penetration is the 600 MHz band, with over 120 MHz now becoming available. That UHF spectrum is currently controlled by television group owners – who use it without paying one dime to the US Treasury. The FCC is required to raise money to pay off the $25 billion FirstNet first responder LTE network.

If 40 MHz of the 120 MHz were available for unlicensed use – and dedicated to both communities and citizens – perhaps $100 billion could be saved. With 40 Mhz, cities should be able to deliver 150 Mbps or more on each sector, covering 10 square miles.

Portland says it is shovel ready for FTTP having completed a business case and feasibility study as well as a Staff White Paper that summarizes why Portland is ideal for FTTP a couple of years ago.

Portland, with 137 sq miles, calculated that bringing fiber to the home to everyone would cost $470 million. But some 15 wireless 600 MHz towers (even at $200K each), totals $3 million. Add another $2 million for fiber backbone and management.

That’s 1/100th the cost of fiber.

I don’t know about you, but I could live with ubiquitous 10 Mbps wireless for $19.95/month. Fiber is expensive. Wireless is cheap.

Congress should do the math.

Related Fiber Optic articles on Dailywireless include; Seattle’s Gigabit Fiber CityNet, Chicago Announces Free WiFi in Parks, Google Fiber Launches in Kansas City, Google: Fiber to the Home?, Small Cells for Cisco, Sprint to use Light Radio for Small Cells, Street light Provides Wi-Fi, Cell Coverage, Hotspot 2.0, RUS Awards $1.2B for Broadband, City Fiber Strategies, US Broadband Sub Count, Hawaii Plans Broadband Initiative, Unlicensed Muni Broadband: Take Two?, Ten Largest Data Centers, The Fiber Utility, 1 Gbps Fiber Comes Home,

Gartner: Mobile Becoming THE Platform

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Gartner says that by 2015 shipments of tablets will outstrip those of conventional PCs such as desktops and notebooks. That means Android and Apple’s iOS will become increasingly dominant, says Gartner in a new forecast published today.

Android in particular will be installed on more than a billion devices shipped in 2014, says Carolina Milanesi, the analyst who led the research.

At the end of 2016, there will be 2.3 billion computers, tablets and smartphones using Android software, compared with 2.28 billion Windows devices, Gartner data showed.

For Microsoft, income from Windows and Office licensees are key to its revenues: per-PC Windows licences generate about 50% of its profits, and Office licences almost all the rest, explains The Guardian.