Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How policymakers can support broadband abundance

Nearly three years ago, Nick Budidharma, an 18­ year­ old game developer, drove with his parents from Hilton Head, S.C., to live in a “hacker home” that’s connected to the Google Fiber network. Synthia Payne relocated from Denver to launch a startup that aims to let musicians play together in real­-time online. Kansas City -- America’s first Google Fiber city -- has been transformed.

Today, Google Fiber continues to make the Internet faster and more accessible to more people across the country. Michael Slinger, Director of Google Fiber Cities, will testify today before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to urge policymakers to play a more active role in expanding nationwide broadband abundance.

Today’s hearing will highlight the expansion of broadband deployment, recent infrastructure developments, and policies that will encourage investment in broadband expansion. Michael will share our experience building out Google Fiber to present ideas for how policymakers can support greater broadband abundance:

“Policymakers’ top broadband goal should be achieving broadband abundance — which requires reducing the cost of network buildout and removing barriers that limit providers’ ability to reach consumers. The key is to focus on competition, investment, and adoption.”

When lawmakers successfully support broadband infrastructure and development, Americans will have more choices at higher speeds, small businesses will have the opportunity to expand, and local economies will grow.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Bringing Internet access to public housing residents

The web is where we go to connect with people, learn new subjects, and find opportunities for personal and economic growth. But not everyone benefits from all the web has to offer. As many as 26% of households earning less than $30,000 per year don’t access the Internet, compared to just 3% of adults with annual incomes over $75,000. Google Fiber is working to change that. Today, in all of our Google Fiber markets, we’re launching a program to connect residents in select public and affordable housing properties for $0/month with no installation fee.

This initiative is part of ConnectHome, a bold new program launched by the White House and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that aims to bring Internet connectivity to more school-aged children and families living in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities across the country. We’re proud to partner with HUD to connect families in four of the communities they’ve selected—Atlanta, Durham, Nashville and Kansas City. We’ll also extend the program to every other current and future Google Fiber market.

We realize, though, that providing an Internet connection is just one piece of the puzzle. People can only take advantage of the many benefits of the web when they understand why it matters and know how to use it. That’s why we’ll also partner with ConnectHome and local community groups to develop basic computer skills training and create computer labs to host these trainings in each of our Fiber markets.

This program was inspired by our work with the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) on their Unlocking the Connection initiative. Through the initiative, HACA has led collaborations with Google Fiber, EveryoneOn.org, and local community groups such as Austin Free-Net and Austin Community College to help residents of HACA communities sign up for $0/month Internet connection, enroll in digital literacy classes and access computers—all at no cost.

HACA residents have embraced this program. At Manchaca Village, the first public housing property we engaged, over 90% of residents signed up for service, and more than half of the residents completed digital literacy training. With support from local organizations and city leaders, we hope to see this same kind of success across the country.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Now accepting applications for the first-ever Digital Inclusion Fellowship

When people have access to the web, opportunities are just a click away—from learning how to sign up for health care, to finding affordable housing, to keeping in touch with family and friends. But today, more than 60 million Americans still aren’t using the Internet at home. While there are organizations across the U.S. that want to help bring these people online, many of them don’t have the in-house expertise or resources to launch new programs.

That’s why, in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), we’re launching the Digital Inclusion Fellowship. The fellowship will pair 16 people with local community organizations in our eight Google Fiber metro areas—Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville, Provo, Raleigh-Durham and Salt Lake City—where they’ll spend a year building a digital inclusion program from the ground up.


This fellowship will help community organizations get more people connected to the web. For example, the Salt Lake Education Foundation’s fellows will teach parents how to communicate with their children’s teachers and access grades and attendance records online. Meanwhile Triangle Literacy Council’s fellow will create a mobile computing lab, which will travel to libraries, community centers, jails, and schools to teach people basic online tasks, like sending emails or finding health clinics.

NTEN will choose fellows from their local community, since they’ll know what kinds of programs will work best in their city. Once selected, they’ll travel to Google’s offices in Mountain View, Calif., to receive specialized training from NTEN on how to build effective digital inclusion programs. And throughout the fellowship, Google Fiber will provide approximately $1 million to support salaries and benefits for fellows, and stipends to organizations so they have the resources to launch their new programs.

So if you’re passionate about access to the Internet and want to unlock new opportunities for residents in your community, apply at nten.org/community/dif now through June 10, 2015.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Advancing digital literacy in Kansas City

From helping job-seekers expand their digital skills to teaching seniors how to email long-distance relatives, organizations in Kansas City are finding new ways to show residents why the Internet matters. We know that access to the Internet can have a transformative impact on people’s lives. So last year, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, which is supported by Google Fiber and five other partners, announced the Kansas City Digital Inclusion Fund to support organizations advancing digital literacy in the local community.

Today, the Digital Inclusion Fund is making its second round of grants to six groups that are kicking digital literacy efforts into high gear. With today’s awards, the Digital Inclusion Fund has contributed more than $430,000 to digital literacy projects since it made its first grants in 2014. The organizations receiving grants to grow their digital literacy programs this year are:

ArtsTech
Connecting for Good
Hispanic Economic Development Corporation
Kansas City Public Library
Literacy Kansas City
Trinity Community Church / Shepherd’s Center

Many of these organizations are two-time recipients of Digital Inclusion Fund grants—and over the last year, they’ve demonstrated the tremendous value they bring to Kansas City. ArtsTech has trained teenagers as Digital Connectors who have taught more than 250 seniors how to get online. Last year, Connecting for Good refurbished nearly 1,000 computers and provided them to the community at an affordable price. Kansas City Public Library introduced new technologies to the more than 2,000 students who have visited the library’s open-door Digital Media Lab.

Digital literacy training at the Trinity Community Church

We’re also delighted to welcome the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation as a supporter of the Digital Inclusion Fund. In keeping with its mission to promote educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, the Kauffman Foundation will join Google Fiber, Sprint, The Illig Family Foundation, Polsinelli, Global Prairie and JE Dunn Construction in supporting the third round of grants next year.

The web holds unlimited possibilities for the Kansas City community, and we’re looking forward to seeing how this year’s grantees help residents unlock that potential. Organizations interested in applying for the next round of grants can learn more from the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation, and look out for the next round of applications in August 2015.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Introducing dial-up mode

At Google Fiber, we are passionate about superfast Internet. We believe that people shouldn’t wait to connect to the things they care about—like that awesome YouTube video, can’t-miss TV series or those photos from the last family vacation.

But as we've rolled out Google Fiber in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, we’ve learned that Fiber has been impacting our subscribers in ways that we didn’t expect. Loading bars used to give people an opportunity to pause and take care of the little things—like making a cup of coffee, taking a bathroom break or playing with the dog. We’ve been told that Fiber’s seemingly instant connections have taken away that precious time.

This got us thinking—what if we could help people get their time back even while they used Fiber? We worked with dial-up engineers, 56k researchers and T1 enthusiasts across the world to build our newest feature: dial-up mode.



It wasn’t easy, but we got to the root of the problem. By incorporating dial-up technology, we were able to reduce Fiber speeds up to 376 times by withholding photons from the fiber strands. In doing so, the light-based fiber optic technology dims to a flicker of its previous capacity, giving our users those precious moments to load the dishwasher, hug the kids or walk the dog.

To activate this new feature, simply click the menu at the top right-hand corner of your browser and select 'Dial-up Mode'. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the power of slowness.


Over the coming weeks, we'll be rolling out dial-up mode to gigabit customers in Kansas City, Provo, and Austin, helping meet the need for slow. We hope to bring this feature to all Google Fiber subscribers soon.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City

During my time working in Provo, I’ve seen the impact of Google Fiber firsthand. Hackers from across the country have gathered at DevMountain to develop new web and mobile applications; the United Way of Utah County has promoted new digital literacy programs throughout the community; and one organization, called Now I Can, has used Google Fiber to remotely connect parents with their children undergoing intensive physical therapy in Provo.

Now, another city in the Silicon Slopes is poised to show the world what’s possible with gigabit Internet. Today, we’re ready to bring Google Fiber to one more metro area—Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake has more than breathtaking mountain vistas and fantastic ski slopes. It also hosts a booming technology sector, world-renowned universities and a vibrant local culture. We’re looking forward to seeing Salt Lake residents use gigabit Internet to spark creative ideas, jumpstart businesses and collaborate in ways they couldn't before.


Salt Lake City will join the Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham metro areas in the design phase of building our fiber network. Over the coming months, we’ll work closely with these cities to map out just where to lay our fiber-optic cables. There’s a lot of work ahead; as the new Associate City Manager for Google Fiber in Salt Lake City, I can’t wait to see what the city does with superfast Internet.


For information about Google Fiber’s progress in your area, visit our website and sign up for updates.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Google Fiber for Small Business arrives in Provo (plus more of Kansas City)

Since we launched our Early Access program in Kansas City, small businesses have experienced the magic that comes with gigabit speeds. Take, for example, the documentary film studio that no longer has to ship hard drives to clients to avoid long upload times; or the software developer who can reliably access cloud systems that are vital to his business. Without the stress and lost time of a slow Internet connection, small businesses can focus on what matters most.

Today, we’re bringing Google Fiber for Small Business to Provo and its vibrant small business community, as well as expanding to additional areas of Kansas City (Kansas City North and South). Small businesses in these areas can sign up for our Early Access program, and get gigabit Internet for just $100 per month. In the words of Provo Mayor John Curtis, small businesses can “kiss loading bars goodbye.”



Provo has already shown us what’s possible when an emerging technology hub has access to gigabit Internet — from the DevMountain coding school, to a growing community at the Startup Dojo, or a geneticist who is using gigabit Internet to download an entire human genome in under an hour. We can’t wait to see what the city’s small businesses do with Google Fiber.

If you’re a small business in Provo or in Kansas City, visit our website to get the latest and check if your business is eligible for Google Fiber.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Google Fiber is coming to Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham

It’s been nearly five years since we offered to build a fiber-optic network in one U.S. city as an experiment — and were met with overwhelming enthusiasm. Now, Google Fiber is live in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, and we've started to see how gigabit Internet, with speeds up to 100 times faster than today’s basic broadband, can transform cities. It can give them new platforms for economic development and new ways of using technology to improve life for their citizens. And, around the country, it seems to be catching on.

Check out the Kansas City Startup Village and Provo learn-how-to-code hub DevMountain. Take a look at the work of a geneticist whose speedy connection could one day help newborns in intensive care, or how one city's network is connecting a high school classroom to an underwater microscope so students can study oceanic life in the Pacific... from Chattanooga, Tenn. There are many more stories like this—stories about how people are using gigabit internet to spark innovation, inspire creativity, and collaborate in ways they simply couldn't before. And we want to see even more.

So, today, we’re happy to announce that Google Fiber is coming to 18 cities across four new metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham. We can’t wait to see what people and businesses across the Southeast U.S. do with gigabit speeds.


Bringing Google Fiber to these cities is a long-term investment. We’ve been working closely with city leaders over the past year on a joint planning process to get their communities ready for Google Fiber—and now the really hard work begins. Our next step is to work with cities to create a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, using existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit, and making sure to avoid things like gas and water lines. Then a team of surveyors and engineers will hit the streets to fill in missing details. Once we’re done designing the network (which we expect to wrap up in a few months), we’ll start construction.


We’re also continuing to explore bringing fiber to five additional metro areas—Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose, and will have updates on these potential Fiber cities later this year.

Today, we aren't the only ones talking about gigabit broadband. From the White House to main street, a chorus of new voices is standing up for speed. Just last week during the State of the Union, the President called for faster networks so that innovators and entrepreneurs can build the next big idea. New research from the Fiber to the Home Council shows gigabit networks are contributing billions of dollars in economic growth. Communities across America are demanding more speed for their own homes and businesses, and we’re going to keep doing our part to help.

Monday, December 01, 2014

It’s Fiber Monday in Austin!

Access to abundant, super fast Internet can open up new opportunity for communities — and from the day we announced our plans to build in Austin, the city has embraced the possibilities that will come from Internet that's up to 100 times faster than today's basic speeds. Today we’re kicking off Google Fiber signups for Austinites, their neighbors, and local small businesses in the South and Southeast areas of the city. This is just the beginning. 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.

Google Fiber vans have arrived in Austin
Whether you’re in a home, apartment, or a small business, you’ll notice that getting Google Fiber is a little different. We don’t choose which areas get Fiber — you and your neighbors do. Last year I shared an early look at how this will work; now you’ll be able to see this process live so that you know how many more people need to sign up in order to bring Fiber to your neighborhood.
For Austinites in neighborhoods (or ‘fiberhoods’ as we call them) that are open for signups, you can choose one of three Google Fiber plans.

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. Austin is already booming with ambitious and creative entrepreneurs, and we can’t wait to see what small businesses do with Fiber.

Keep in mind: you’ll have a limited window of time to sign up. We do this so that we can bring you Google Fiber as quickly as possible. We focus our efforts on one neighborhood at a time, doing an all-out installation blitz if your fiberhood meets its signup goal. After we’re finished in your fiberhood, we’ll move on to the next. Be sure to check your sign up deadline so you don’t miss us when we’re in your part of town.

Want to learn more about Google Fiber? Today we’re opening our Fiber Space in downtown Austin. Drop by and take Google Fiber for a spin, sign up for service, and see firsthand why speed matters. The Fiber Space is also a gathering place for the Austin community, so be sure to check out the schedule of events happening this month.


Thanks for having us, Austin. We've already heard from many of you what you would do with super fast Internet speeds — we’re excited for all of these possibilities and more. We look forward to seeing you around town.

Posted by Mark Strama, Head of Google Fiber, Austin

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unlocking the Connection for Austin’s public housing residents

For Austin's public housing residents, access to the Internet can mean the difference between keeping up or falling behind. It can mean more resident children using computers in after-school programs and robotics clubs, more students using a home computer to finish their homework as their peers do, more working adults completing online GED training modules at home, and more seniors participating in basic computer skills workshops.

That’s why today, the Housing Authority of the City of Austin (HACA) is launching Unlocking the Connection, a homegrown Austin initiative to help close the digital divide for the 4,300 people who live in public housing. Unlocking the Connection addresses the full set of resources needed to make the Web more available and relevant to Austinites who aren’t online today — an affordable Internet connection, access to devices, basic computer skills training, and opportunities to better understand how they can use the Web in their daily lives. HACA has brought together more than 20 national and local partners, including Google Fiber, to play a role in the program.

We started talking with HACA after the City of Austin selected its Booker T. Washington training center as a site to receive Google Fiber as part of our Community Connections program. That conversation, and the many that followed, demonstrated that HACA had an ambitious vision for a digital inclusion program — one that was deeply rooted in the often complex reasons that people weren’t yet online — and that there was a natural way that Google Fiber could help.

Google Fiber will bring state of the art infrastructure to Austin's public housing; we will provide a free fiber connection to any existing HACA property in a neighborhood that meets its signup goal to get Google Fiber. If a family in one of these properties signs up for our Basic Service, they get an in-home Internet connection at today’s basic broadband speeds, free for ten years after construction, They can also upgrade and pay for gigabit speeds anytime. In addition, we’re providing computers to HACA education and training centers, as well as funding Austin Free-Net, a local nonprofit, to provide digital literacy training in HACA properties. Along with the contributions of dozens of other partners — foundations, corporations, educational institutions — this support can advance HACA’s vision to bring more of its residents online.

Google Fiber is making a long-term investment in each city where we build — including Austin, where digital inclusion is a citywide priority. Here and in any city, our approach is shaped by potential partners, the cues of local leaders, and the unique needs of residents. Unlocking the Connection is the result of the collaboration and commitment of the Austin community — it’s driven by HACA’s vision, supported by local leaders, and engages the talents of community organizations. We’re proud to work hand-in-hand with all of these partners to help create a more connected Austin.

Posted by Parisa Fatehi-Weeks, Community Impact Manager, Google Fiber Austin