San Antonio could join Austin to become the second Texas city to host Google’s impressive high-speed Internet service, Google Fiber.

On February 19, Google Inc. announced that San Antonio was one of the nine US metropolitan areas selected from a pool of over 1,000 applicants for testing to determine the viability of a Google Fiber program. Atlanta, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Portland, Nashville, Charlotte and Raleigh were also chosen for viability testing by the advertising giant.

Why should UTSA students and San Antonio residents buy into the hype? Because Google Fiber offers up to 1,000 Megabits per second (Mbps), a gigantic leap over the average US Internet speed of 9.8 Mbps.

“We know that consumers want high-speed Internet,” said Google Fiber General Manager Kevin Lo in a conference call with the press.

“In fact, most of the things we do today require a lot of bandwidth. Nobody likes it when websites buffer, when videos that we’re trying to watch don’t load properly.”

The possibility of Google Fiber being offered in San Antonio has generated a lot of excitement. San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro stated in the same press call that this could be a huge opportunity for the city.

“This comes at a particularly opportune time for local markets like San Antonio to have increased competition. I’m confident we can make (Google Fiber) a success in San Antonio.”

This isn’t the first time the mayor has championed the benefits of fiber networks. Last spring, Mayor Castro and Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna proposed the establishment of the San Antonio Area Broadband Network (SAABBN).

Although still in development, the new initiative aims to give public universities, hospitals and other government entities the opportunity to connect to a shared network with the city. If Google decides to bring Google Fiber to the city, SAABBN could serve as a complementary program.

Google Fiber and SAABBN will not be competing with one another, as SAABBN would only be sold to government agencies and not to the general public.

Because state laws prohibit municipalities from providing telecommunications services to the public, Google Fiber has the potential to provide fiber connections for the general public, unlike SAABBN.

How much does the fastest Internet available in the United States cost? Rates will vary from city to city. In Provo, Utah and Kansas City, Missouri, Google offers basic Internet at 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload speeds for free with a $300 construction fee to set up services in the home. The $300 can be paid out over a 12-month period for $25 per month.

The much-anticipated 1,000 Mbps plan will cost $70 per month.

By comparison, Time Warner’s fastest Internet plan gives users 50Mbps for $64.99 while AT&T’s fastest plan offers 45Mbps for $64.95 in San Antonio.

In addition to residential benefits, Google’s faster Internet service could provide a boost to data intensive businesses, something Mayor Castro is supporting.

“There’s no question that there’s a certain cachet that comes with being a Google Fiber city, and I look forward to working to make San Antonio one of those cities.”

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