Google Considers Bringing High-Speed Broadband To Additional Cities

Google said this week that it will evaluate cities in nine metropolitan areas -- Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Phoenix, Portland, Raleigh-Durham, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, and San Jose -- to determine whether they're suitable candidates for the company's high-speed fiber optic network.

The search giant plans to work with mayors of the cities -- 34 in all -- to figure out logistical issues, like whether local governments are able to enter into leases, obtain permits, and the like. Google also says it needs information about utility poles and existing water, gas and electricity lines, in order to know where it can place fiber.

Google rolled out its first fiber optic network two years ago in Kansas City. Since then, the company has launched similar networks in Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. When Google began providing broadband service in Kansas City, the company not only offered speeds of up to 1 Gbps -- more than 100 times faster than average U.S. connections -- but also priced the offering at highly competitive rates. The most expensive package, which includes TV service, is $120 a month; Internet-only service was priced at $70 a month, and Google offered free 5 Mbps connections for seven years to residents who paid a one-time fee of $300.

Google's entry into broadband obviously spurred other Internet service providers to step up their offerings. Consider, in Austin alone AT&T has said it will offer 1 Gbps service for $70 a month -- though that price is only available to people who are willing to receive targeted ads based on their Web activity. Subscribers who don't want such ads will be charged $99 a month. Time Warner Cable also reportedly said today that it plans to boost speeds to 300 Mbps in Austin.

Google intends to announce by the end of the year whether it's moving forward in any of the cities under consideration.

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