Google, AT&T promise high-speed race in Austin

As expected, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Fiber's next stop will be Austin, Texas; not quite so expected is the news that AT&T (NYSE: T) will match the 1 Gbps service with one of its own.

The word was out as early as last week that Google was moving to the Texas capital so it wasn't a surprise when the company, in conjunction with city fathers, confirmed that Austin would follow in Kansas City's footsteps as a 1 Gbps broadband network site. It was a surprise when, only moments later, AT&T released an announcement stating "it is prepared to build an advanced fiber optic infrastructure in Austin, Texas, capable of delivering speeds up to 1 gigabit per second."

The AT&T move is supposedly part of its long-range Project VIP, a multi-billion upgrade of the carrier's wireline and wireless infrastructure designed to build higher speed networks.

It makes things a little bit different for Google, which pretty much had the ultra-high-speed market to itself in Kansas City where Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) took a wait-and-see attitude, with chairman-CEO Glenn Britt calling the Kansas City network "PR and hype," during a fourth quarter earnings call in February.

"The reality is today there are not really applications that require 1 gigabit per second," Britt said, maintaining that the company's philosophy "has been to keep our speeds in line with what the market demands and what it needs." That means, Britt said, "sometime in the future we'll have 1 gig, maybe 2 gigs [but] this is not a real need for anybody right now."

Apparently AT&T doesn't share that line of thinking, although it is tying its network advances to regulatory flexibility, with chairman-CEO Randall Stephenson citing "the recognition by government officials that policies which eliminate unnecessary regulation, lower costs and speed infrastructure deployment, can be a meaningful catalyst to additional investment in advanced networks."

Google Fiber has, at least on the surface, changed the game with its K.C. rollout which has earned the area the nickname "Silicon Valley."

"In Kansas City we've been amazed to see how gigabit connectivity has really been able to bring people together," Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Fiber said in an IPTV News story.

Austin should be more of the same, added Milo Medin, vice president of Google Fiber in the same story where he called Austin a "mecca for creativity and entrepreneurialism."

For more:
- IPTV News had this story
- and AT&T issued this press release

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Report: Austin preparing to be second Google Fiber city
AT&T exec: 'We're going to expand U-verse'