Google Fiber starts signing up 1 Gig customers in Austin

Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced that it will start signing up both residential and small business customers for its 1 Gbps fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) in the south and southeast areas of Austin, Texas, with plans to bring the service to other neighborhoods.

"We'll be opening new areas of the city for signups on an ongoing basis, and we hope to bring Fiber to every neighborhood in Austin that wants it," wrote Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber, Austin, in a blog post.

Austin is the latest in a trio of cities, including Provo and Kansas City, where Google Fiber is offering FTTP services.

News of Google Fiber debuting in Austin should not be all that surprising as the service provider revealed product pricing last week. In September, the service provider said it had begun the buildout in the city, but would miss its original deadline to start connecting homes by the middle of 2014.

Similar to Provo and Kansas City, consumers can choose from three pricing options: a $130/month 1 Gbps broadband and TV bundle; a standalone Internet option for $70 a month; and a 5/1 Mbps tier for free after paying a $300 construction fee. Google Fiber will waive the construction fee as long as the customer commits to a one-year contract.

Businesses will be able to get the 1 Gbps speeds for $100 a month.

Strama said that "small businesses in the same group of fiberhoods can sign up for up to gigabit speeds for $100 per month through the Early Access Program for Google Fiber for Small Business."

In addition, the service provider is working with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) to wire public housing units with its fiber-based service via its Unlocking the Connection initiative.

Google Fiber's FTTP rollout trails both AT&T (NYSE: T) and Grande Communications, two service providers that have already launched their own 1 Gbps service in parts of Austin.

Like Google Fiber, AT&T's standalone 1 Gbps offering is similarly priced at $70 a month and requires users to agree to have their Internet activity tracked by the telco. Likewise, Grande, which began offering a $65 a month 1 Gbps service in February, recently announced that it is expanding its presence into more parts of the city, including the West Campus area of Austin.

Outside of Austin, the service provider is "exploring" the idea of bring FTTP to another 34 potential cities, including Nashville, Tenn., where it recently applied for a service franchise. 

For more:
- see this blog post
- The Verge has this article

Special report: Gigabit Wars: The best prices for 1 Gbps service from ILECs, MSOs and municipal providers

Related articles:
Google Fiber reveals 1 Gig pricing for Austin
Report: Google Fiber starts Austin buildout
Google Fiber comes to Austin, mayor announces
Grande extends 1 Gbps service into more parts of Austin
Google Fiber applies for service franchise to bring FTTP service to Tennessee

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