Pick me! Pick me! Google wants Austinites to fight for fiber, recruit neighbors

google fiber webpass expansion van
If you want to see what the future of the Internet looks like, you might want to look to Austin, Texas. That’s the latest city to host Google’s powerful new Google Fiber initiative, second only to the very first Google Fibertown on the map, Kansas City. Having won Google’s golden ticket last year, Austinites will soon see ground broken in select “fiberhoods” that will pave the way for Internet speeds of up to 100 times faster than the U.S. average. And that’s not all. Google is also in the TV business now — as in: move over, Comcast and Time Warner.

Before you get too jealous, though, consider that Google’s revolutionary new services come with a rather big catch: If you’re an Austin denizen gunning for Google Fiber in your neighborhood, then you have to convince your neighbors they want it too. Not enough interest in your part of town? Then you may be slap out of luck.

“We don’t choose which areas get Fiber — you and your neighbors do.”

“We don’t choose which areas get Fiber — you and your neighbors do,” writes Google’s Mark Farma. Those who want Fiber will have to sign up for one of three Fiber plans, and rally enough Fiber fans around them to meet Google’s deadline so the company can lay down the cable in an “all-out installation blitz,” and move on. “After we’re finished in your fiberhood, we’ll move on to the next,” Farma claims. The build out will begin in the South and Southeast areas of Austin, and will expand from there.

See how that works? Google doesn’t sell its wondrous new service; you do. No pamphlets or junk mail, just communities rallying the troops to ensure Google won’t leave their would-be fiberhood high and dry. The payoff is a chance at some very enticing rate plans, with something for every kind of Internet user.

Those who don’t need much speed can go with Google’s basic Fiber plan, which offers 5 Mbps Internet for a one time construction fee of $300, or $25/month spaced over 12 months. But where’s the fun in that? For $70/month, Google ups the ante considerably, offering near-instant connections of 1 Gbps (or 1,000 Mbps) for both download and uploading, as well as a full TB of cloud storage, and a waived $300 construction fee on a 12-month commitment.

Finally, there’s the big boy, AKA the Comcast-is-for-suckers bundle, which includes 1 Gbps Internet, 1 TB of cloud storage, and a 150+ channel bundle, with the ability to record up to 8 shows at a time. Again, a 12-month commitment is required for this package, and the $300 construction fee is waived. For those who want to learn more about the service, Google is opening a Fiber Space in downtown Austin for residents to come check Fiber out first hand. And Digital Trends will be there to check it out.

If you’re thinking Austin’s got it pretty good when it comes to connectivity, you’d be right … and it gets worse. The city is already home to AT&T’s Gigapower fiber service, which offers similar speeds and pricing, though without the TB of cloud storage at present. It should be interesting to see what happens as the two companies duke it out. Meanwhile, the rest of the country can only look on in envy.

Google believes faster Internet can “lead to jobs, drive economic growth, and help businesses succeed on the web.”

Of course, some may be wondering exactly what that lightning-quick connection speed can accomplish given the constraints of today’s Internet. After all, while there’s certainly a benefit of having top notch connection speeds, 1 Gbps for email and Netflix streaming is a bit like teleporting up a flight of stairs — convenient, perhaps, but a little overkill. However, as Google stresses, Fiber isn’t really about what’s happening now, it’s about what’s coming.

To tease what’s coming in the near future, Google is quick to outline the awful and simplistic world of the Internet past: dial-up. Comparing all that is possible today, from online gaming to video chatting and instant downloads, we’ve come a long way. As Google puts it, the vision of Fiber is to “lead to the next chapter of the Internet.” Apart from the better experience, Google believes faster Internet can “lead to jobs, drive economic growth, and help businesses succeed on the web.”

Apart from its initial Fiber Space exhibition, Google will be giving us a demonstration of its vision of the next chapter, as well as showing off its new devices for TV and Internet that will premiere in homes soon in Austin, and hopefully, far beyond in the coming years. Stay tuned Wednesday for a hands on look at the Internet devices of tomorrow.

Cars

Volvo plans to face the future without sacrificing its identity

Volvo is embarking on an ambitious push to fill its lineup with electric and hybrid cars, as well as an infotainment partnership with Google. Volvo Americas CEO Anders Gustafsson explains how the Swedish automaker plans to pull that off.
Mobile

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.
Mobile

Which Verizon plan is best for you? We check out family, individual, and prepaid

Verizon offers lots of plans for individuals, your family, and folks who want prepaid service. Here is everything you need to know about Verizon's plans, from data packages and smartphones to Big Red's prepaid plans.
Home Theater

They’re not just for gaming: Watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X

While the Xbox One S and Xbox One X boost the visuals of your games, they also can pull double-duty as Blu-ray players, but there's a bit of set up needed. Need help? Here's our guide on how to watch Blu-rays on the Xbox One S and X.
Movies & TV

You can ditch cable but still get your 'SportsCenter' fix with ESPN+

ESPN's streaming service, ESPN+, is finally here. Despite appearances, ESPN+ isn't a replacement for your ESPN cable channels, and it differs from other streaming apps in a few key ways.
Product Review

Google’s third HD Chromecast is still a good streamer, but its value is slipping

At Google’s October event, we saw a slew of new products, but the new third-generation Chromecast didn’t even make it onstage. We spent some time with the incrementally upgraded, third-generation HD Chromecast to see if it’s worth…
Home Theater

Throw away those EarPods -- we dug up the best headphones in every style

Trolling the internet for hours to find headphones is no way to live. Instead, leverage our expertise and experience to find the best headphones for you. Here are our 10 favorites.
Smart Home

SiriusXM, Amazon team up for two Echo Dot deals with freebies

Amazon and SiriusXM partnered on two joint promotions. New SiriusXM subscribers can receive a free Amazon Echo Dot. People who already own an Echo device can sign up for new SiriusXM subscription with the first three months free.
Music

Bolster your HD music catalog with the best high-res audio sites

Music connoisseurs relish HD audio, but scouring the web for all the best streaming and downloading sites can be a pain. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Check out our list, and let the high-resolution good times roll.
Home Theater

Lynxsonic’s 4:33 headphones offer premium features at a not-so-premium price

If you're looking for a set of wireless headphones that has a similar feature set to Bose's QuietComfort 35 but with a lower price, the Lynxsonic 4:33 is an intriguing new contender on Kickstarter.
Home Theater

Demystify home audio with our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide

Today's A/V receivers are packed with lots of advanced technology and just plain cool features. From understanding watt ratings to Wi-Fi, we explain how to buy one that will last you for years in our ultimate A/V receiver buying guide.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.