Is Fast Internet Coming to Your Town?
August 28, 2022
When Debbie and I started looking for property to build our new smart home on we started by making a list of ‘Must Haves’ and ‘Nice to Haves.’ Makes sense, right? I think Yogi Bera put it best in our case:
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”
Apologies to all my Red Sox fan friends out there. If I could have found a better quote I would have. Having our priorities documented was critical to keeping our list to a manageable length, especially when searching a state the size of Texas. Not that I’m suggesting foregoing the list if you’re looking for a place in Rhode Island by any means. You’ll never go wrong having a plan.
As our plan was always to build as smart a home as we could based on known applicable technologies and planning in flexibility for future technology, connectivity and speed to the internet was a ‘must have.’ As much of smart technology is reliant on cloud support it only makes sense. And another reason connectivity and speed is so critical. Having both elements eliminates operational issues and reduces latency.
I did take into account the highest priority smart home elements, like lighting and plan to drive those with Z-Wave so an internet outage won’t leave me sitting in a dark house. Sadly this is a contingency that needs to be planned for but better safe than sorry.
An additional reason connectivity and speed is so important is that I work from home — I have for over 5 years. So being connected to fast, reliable internet is essential to my daily work activities. I was working from home a while before it became the cool thing to do. I don’t know if I could go back to working in an office again.
So, fiber to the home for fast internet was on our list. Luckily we were able to find property that has it along with our other ‘Must Haves’ and a majority of the ‘Nice to Haves.’ Our list of local providers for fast internet in the area is a bit limited as we live in a fairly rural area. Fortunately there are initiatives in place with national carriers to build universal fiber networks across the country. One of those companies is Google.
Google Fiber is a super-fast gigabit home internet service owned by Google. It has been slow to arrive in new areas over the past few years, but now Google has released new locations where it’s headed next.
Google has spent many months traveling across the country, having conversations with cities looking for the best way to get better internet to their residents and business owners as quickly as possible. Google Fiber is currently only available in 12 metro areas across the United States, including Atlanta, GA, Huntsville, AL, Nashville, TN and Orange County, CA
A few more cities have Fiber Webpass, where high-speed internet is delivered with wireless technology. Verizon and T-Mobile offer similar wireless home internet services — Verizon’s 5G Home internet and T-Mobile’s Home Internet. There are links on both sites to check if the services are available in your zip code.
Google is currently in talks with city leaders in Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada, and Idaho to roll out fiber internet. Those states currently have no areas covered by Google Fiber. Google hasn’t released specific area in those states as the approval process is up to city boards and other local governments. The only confirmed new city so far is Mesa, Arizona, which Google announced on July 1 and was approved by the city on July 14. Mesa is the third-largest city in Arizona, after Phoenix (the capital) and Tucson, with a population of over 500,000 people. I don’t know if the size is a factor based on others already with fiber. I’m still scratching my head a little about Huntsville as it has less than half the population of Mesa — and nowhere near Atlanta, Nashville or Orange County.
Google Fiber was one of the first internet service providers to offer gigabit speeds for homes in the US when it was founded in 2010. However, Google has struggled to bring it to new areas in recent years, since laying underground cables and setting up other infrastructure is a time-consuming and costly process. The company attempted a new process for burying cables in Louisville, Kentucky to speed up the process, but it had such poor results that Google discontinued service in the area in 2019.
Utility poles are another way to deliver fiber to residential locations, but legal battles with competitors like AT&T and Verizon have made that difficult as well. Getting access to utility poles is a challenge particularly for new competitors like Google since these facilities are owned by three entities — the local power company, the telco, or the municipality itself. Competitors wanting access to utility poles are often faced with hefty fees, delays or owners blocking access even though it is less disruptive than digging up streets to lay conduit.
AT&T is the first provider to work with Google Fiber on granting access to AT&T’s utility poles. There’s a national agreement with Google to give them access on a city-by-city basis. The FCC has been working with all sides to resolve pole attachment issues.
Google plans to sell 1 Gbps fiber service for $70/mo. This has forced incumbent telcos and cable operators like AT&T and Comcast to rethink their broadband service strategies. Both Verizon and T-Mobile have 5G wireless plans for as low as $50/mo.
If you happen to live in any of the cities below, Google Fiber is an option for you. I’ll be patiently waiting for Canyon, TX to make the list:
- Atlanta, GA
- Austin, TX
- Charlotte, NC
- Des Moines, IA (soon)
- Huntsville, AL
- Kansas City, KS/MO
- Mesa, AZ (soon)
- Nashville, TN
- Orange County, CA
- Provo, UT
- Salt Lake City, UT
- San Antonio, TX
- The Triangle, NC
- West Des Moines, IA
Google Fiber Webpass is available in these cities:
- Chicago, IL
- Denver, CO
- Miami, FL
- Oakland, CA
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA
- Seattle, WA
Oddly, you’d think the lists would be flipped as it’d make more sense to invest in fiber over wireless in the larger markets — more people = more revenue. They may have been test markets for high speed internet without the big investment to test viability of the service. Or restrictions due to competition or politics, who knows. Regardless, Google is pushing fiber into new markets all over the country. So if your town didn’t make the list, it may sometime soon.
I’m curious if you already have Google Fiber or Fiber Webpass in your hometown and if you’re a subscriber. If so, how do you like it? Is it as fast as advertised? Is it reliable? How is their customer service? What was the installation experience like at your home? I’m especially curious if you subscribe again if other options were available?
And what about 5G home internet service? Are you a subscriber? Are you getting the speeds promised? And what about reliability?
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails as we really enjoy hearing from you. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’ Until next week …
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