Why Austin is Right for Google Fiber

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If you haven’t heard about it yet, Google (yes, that Google) is getting into the ISP business. Surprised? Well, that makes tons of us. At face value, this seems like an odd choice for a search company. Serving up the intarwebs isn’t obviously related to Google’s mission to index the whole world. But when you read about Google’s plan to build the next generation of webapps, its decision to enter the ISP arena is a no-brainer. Google needs a faster network to build what it wants to build, but it’s tired of waiting for the telecom industry to provide it, so Google’s going to roll out the network itself. (Honestly, if you want anything done…)

Anyway, the official name of the program is Big Gig, and you can read all about it on its official site. The high points are that Big Gig is going to roll out faster broadband to cities in America, but only a few, so the competition to draw Google’s attention is fierce. And the competition should be fierce. Google’s not just rolling out faster internet. Google’s rolling out gigabit internet. Let me say that one more time, just in case you weren’t paying attention: Google is rolling out Gigabit internet. That’s probably about 100-200 times faster than whatever connection you used to download this article.

Now are you listening?

If you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you that gigabit internet would change the game. (But I’m going to anyway, because it’s fun to think about.) On gigabit internet, you don’t stream HD movies at 480p, you stream them at 1080p. (You think Blockbuster is in trouble now?) You don’t teleconference from one conference room to another, you teleconference from office to conference room to living room to dorm room. Web apps don’t have to run batch updates, they can make a network round trip between the first two letters of you typing your name. Gigabit internet isn’t big. It’s huge.

But it’s only huge if the people using the network make it huge. A Ferrari, beautiful though it may be, doesn’t make a lot of difference if it’s just sitting in your garage. That’s why Google’s choice of cities matters, and Google should choose Austin. Austin is the ideal choice for Big Gig because it has a unique intersection of education, entrepreneurship, and events that would put gigabit internet to better use than any other city in the country.

Austin is home to the University of Texas, one of the largest universities in the US, and among those big universities has far and away the best Computer Science and Computer Engineering departments. Want some of the world’s smartest kids building things with the world’s fastest internet? Me too. So let’s roll some out to UT.

But innovation matters more than numbers, and UT has that too, with many successful startups emerging every single year. And for every startup UT spins out every year, Austin sees 10 more. Austin has historically been a mecca for new technologies, and Austin’s track record of producing home runs like Trilogy, Tivoli, and Origin Systems, and more recently companies like Whole Foods and Uship and HomeAway, speaks for itself. Austin entrepreneurs are dying to get their hands on faster internet, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll build with it.

Austin is also home to two of the biggest annual multimedia events in the world, Austin City Limitis and South by Southwest. (If you didn’t recognize the #sxsw hashtag that’s been trending on Twitter for basically the last 2 weeks straight, it’s for South by Southwest.) These two festivals alone bring more than 175,000 attendees (more than 100,000 for SxSW and more than 75,000 for ACL) to Austin every year, and they’re an incredibly tech-savvy crowd. Want to figure out how fast internet changes the multimedia experience? Just put it in Austin and we’ll let you know.

So Austin is the ideal city for Google Fiber. But we have to tell Google that! The city and the Austin Statesman have done a good job of advocating for Austin, but they need our help by this Friday, March 26. Join the Big Gig Austin Facebook group. Head to the Big Gig Austin website and see what’s shaking. Follow @biggigaustin on Twitter. And most important, nominate Austin on Google’s official Big Gig website! Again, the deadline for nominations is this Friday, March 26, so get on it!

Did you send in a nomination? Post in the comments! Help other people nominate Austin to bring Google Fiber here!