Google pushes fiber in San Antonio, Atlanta, Des Moines, Austin

Google Fiber has been alternately loud and quiet about its ambitions to provide high-speed, fiber-optic broadband in the United States. But the company seems to be enthused about its work currently. According to a Google Fiber website, it is working in a number of cities to roll out its service. Those cities include Atlanta, Georgia; West Des Moines, Iowa; Charlotte, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and Salt Lake City, Utah, to name a few.

This week, the company said customers in many parts of its San Antonio service area can now sign up for 2 Gig service, offering up to 2,000 Mbps download and up to 1,000 Mbps upload for $100 a month, with no annual contracts, no data caps, with installation and equipment included.

Google first began offering its internet service in San Antonio four years ago. Now, it’s expanding it and says, “We expect 2021 to be the biggest build year since we started constructing our network in San Antonio.”

In regard to Atlanta, the Google team wrote, “Over seven years ago, we started serving our first customers in Atlanta. Since then, we’ve been growing our service area — though slower than some (including us!) would have liked. Lately, we’ve been making progress on finding ways to connect more Atlantans to fast, reliable internet.”

In Atlanta it has focused on bringing service to dense, multi-family apartments. To do this, it used a different kind of build than in other Google Fiber cities, leasing unused fiber from third parties who specialize in multi-family communities. Now, it’s bringing construction crews to build out its network in other kinds of neighborhoods in the city.

Google is working closely with city governments and non-profit organizations in all the locations of its fiber deployments.

Conflict in Des Moines

In mid-2020 Google announced it was working in partnership with the city of West Des Moines. The city is building a conduit network, and Google will be its inaugural tenant. But other providers can also work with the city to use the conduit and provide fiber services.

RELATED: Mediacom files lawsuit against city of West Des Moines over Google Fiber build

However, in late 2020 MCC Iowa, which is a subsidiary of Mediacom Communications, filed a lawsuit against the City of West Des Moines, alleging the city improperly used taxpayer-based financing bonds that were intended for urban blight and poverty projects to instead build a $50 million city-wide conduit network that would benefit Google Fiber.

The city and Google clapped back that Mediacom simply didn’t want any new competition in its Des Moines service area.

The latest news report on the lawsuit indicates the parties are pursuing settlement negotiations to avoid a trial, which is scheduled for April 18, 2022.

Google must feel pretty confident about those negotiations because it posted a blog in late September, saying it’s beginning to place Google Fiber in West Des Moines’s conduit network. “Once we’ve completed the first segment, customers in some areas of the northeast corner of the city will be able to sign up for 1 Gig or 2 Gig internet service,” wrote Google.

Roger Timmerman, the executive director of Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) Fiber, which deploys municipal fiber networks, has said that incumbent telecommunication providers don’t like municipal broadband projects because they introduce new competition.

RELATED: UTOPIA Fiber exec says providers dread ‘overbuilding’ to close the digital divide

However, in the case of Google, Timmerman said some cities have given more favorable terms to Google than they’ve offered to other companies. He doesn’t think it’s fair for taxpayer dollars to favor Google with what amounts to a subsidy while not providing other companies, such as UTOPIA Fiber, with the same deal. “It should be done on a neutral basis,” he said.