Google Fiber’s Austin Buildout Is Underway

Google Fiber’s buildout in Austin, Texas, is underway, though it appears that the provider of broadband and video services will miss its original plan to start connecting homes in the speed-crazed region by mid-2014.

But it apparently won’t miss by much.

“Construction is underway, and we plan to open sign-ups and start hooking up our first Austin customers later this year,” Google Fiber spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said via email.

Google Fiber announced Austin as a buildout site last April, estimating at the time that it would start to connect homes there by mid-2014.

For now, Google Fiber isn’t revealing which parts of the city it is wiring up first, though theAustin-American Statesmanreported this week that south and east Austin are among those being targeted first, citing data culled from its review of hundreds of city-issued permits showing where Google Fiber has begun to install conduit.

And that initial work apparently scratches the surface on what’s in store. Wandres told the paper that it will take thousands of permits to complete its work within the Austin city limits.

“It’s a big construction project, so it takes a whole lot of time to plan for,” she added, according to the report. “We’re working as quickly as we can to get Fiber to Austin residents soon, and we hope to have more information to share soon. It’s a lot of work, and we want to make sure we are doing it right.”

Google Fiber also has not announced when it will begin its sign-up process in Austin. As it’s done in Kansas City and more recently in Provo, Utah, Google Fiber will use a demand-based process to determine which “fiberhoods” will get services first.

In the meantime, Grande Communications has already begun to offer 1-Gig services to select areas of Austin, and incumbent telco AT&T has been rolling out “U-verse with GigaPower,” a fiber-based service that is starting off at 300 Mbps, but will later ramp up to handle 1 Gbps. Time Warner Cable, which is in the process of being acquired by Comcast, has kicked off upgrades in Austin that will enable the operator to deliver 300 Mbps speeds via its DOCSIS 3.0 network, flanked by an expansion of quasi-public WiFi hotspots.

Google Fiber has also announced that it is exploring expansions in an additional nine metro markets and up to 34 cities, with expectations that it will announce selections later this year.