Google Fiber Plugs into Existing Networks in Atlanta

Shedding light on a deployment strategy that could potentially help it accelerate service availability in other cities around the country, Google Fiber confirmed that has tapped into some existing fiber infrastructure in the Atlanta area to deliver service to a select number of apartment buildings in the city’s suburbs.  

The select use of existing infrastructure ties into a much grander construction and service rollout plan Google Fiber has underway in the city.

Last January, Google Fiber announced plans to launch service in the Atlanta metro area, including nearby Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, College Park, Decatur, East Point, Hapeville, Sandy Springs and Smyrna. Google Fiber has since begun construction in the Atlanta metro area, but has not announced when it will launch services there.

However, the targeted use of existing infrastructure in the area is giving Google Fiber a head start with respect to an initial small number of apartment buildings in the region.

“Making great progress building the Fiber network for Metro Atlanta,” Google Fiber said via this post on Google Plus that also announced the launch of a new Web-based Apartment Finder tool.  “We’re even starting to connect a few buildings to help us get ready. If you live in an apartment or condo, check our Apartment Finder to see if your building is on track to get #GoogleFiber:”

While the vast majority of the Atlanta-area apartments currently surfaced by the new tool indicate that “Fiber is coming,” at least two of those locations (Westbury Park, at 1295 Franklin Drive SE in Marietta; and Wesley Plantation, 3575 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. in Duluth) note that there’s “Fiber installed.”

Google Fiber isn’t saying whose existing infrastructure it’s using in the Atlanta area to connect and serve those venues, but did note that the strategy could help Google Fiber more rapidly expand the availability of service in the area.

“We want to bring Google Fiber to as many residents in Metro Atlanta as possible, which is why we’re building a brand new fiber network across nine cities in the area,” a Google Fiber spokesperson said, in a statement. “In addition to the construction that’s already underway, we’re connecting some apartment buildings in the suburbs of Atlanta using existing infrastructure so we can reach more people with gigabit speeds.”

Update: In Atlanta, Google Fiber has also added a new wrinkle to its service pricing. While its stand-alone 1-Gig service ($70 per month) and its Gigabit+TV bundle (starting at $130 per month) is similar to the pricing and packaging offered in other launched markets, in Atlanta Google Fiber is also marketing a “Basic” 100 Mbps broadband service for $50 per month.  In other markets where it has launched service, Google Fiber has been offering a free tier, also called “Basic,” that limits speeds to 5 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up, if customers agree to pay a construction fee. AT&T has also rolled out its fiber-based "GigaPower" service to parts of the Atlanta area ($70 per month for standalone 1-Gig, $120 when bundled with TV service, and $150 when combined with TV and U-verse voice). 

In Atlanta, Google Fiber will tangle with Comcast, which currently offers a fiber-based symmetrical 2 Gbps residential broadband service there called Gigabit Pro. Comcast has also identified Atlanta as one of a handful of markets where it will roll out DOCSIS 3.1 on its widely deployed HFC network later this year. Comcast expects to deploy D3.1 in Atlanta and Nashville in "early 2016" to deliver gigabit broadband service, but has not yet revealed pricing.  

It’s not yet clear if Google Fiber intends to use existing infrastructure in other cities. “We’re always looking for ways to bring Google Fiber to as many people as possible, but we don’t have any further plans to announce at this time,” the spokesperson added.

Google Fiber has launched its mix of gigabit broadband and pay TV services in parts of Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri); Provo, Utah; and Austin Texas.

In addition to the metro Atlanta area, Google Fiber also has network buildouts  underway in Salt Lake City; San Antonio; Nashville; Raleigh-Durham, and Charlotte.

Google Fiber is also exploring expansions in Chicago; Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles, San Jose, Irvine and San Diego, Calif.; Phoenix; Oklahoma City; Louisville, Ky.; and Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla.