It was revealed over the weekend that Austin, Texas will be the next city to receive freedom from monopolistic ISPs thanks to Google Fiber. Of course, the announcement kicked off a new round of people from other cities asking Google to bring Fiber to them next. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that most may never see Google Fiber.
Ars Technica reports that two analysts for Alliance Bernstein – Carlos Kirjner and Ram Parameswaran – have calculated the costs of bringing Google Fiber to most of the nation. Over five years, it would cost Google $11 billion, or four percent of its current net worth, to realize the dream of many across the nation.
So, why is Google Fiber so expensive? First and foremost, the infrastructure costs are astronomical. The main reason you don’t see many established ISPs upgrading their services is for this very reason. Upgrading infrastructure takes time and money – both of which most ISPs aren’t willing to sacrifice when most of their customer base is apparently happy with what they have.
The other major hurdle is of the regulatory kind. Google was lucky enough to get a range of perks from Kansas City, and Austin must be offering the same perks as well. Some cities may not be as kind, while other cities may have stricter regulations in place in regards to how utility poles, which are used to hang fiber wires, can be used.
In short, there are a number of obstacles standing in the way of nationwide Google Fiber deployment. The projected cost is definitely one of the main reasons, but there’s a number of others that Google must take into account before deciding to bring its service to another city.
That being said, relying on Google alone for Fiber is a fool’s game. There are other groups, like Gigabit Squared, that are working to bring Fiber to other cities across the nation. The FCC is also pushing for more gigabit networks across the nation.
Google didn’t start the Fiber craze, but it definitely helped give it some exposure. We can only hope that the move to Austin encourages more cities and organizations to start building out Fiber networks in other cities across the nation.