Google Fiber Coming to Irvine: What this Means for Our City

Google search engine, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Chrome, Android, Hangouts, Google Maps, Google Voice. Get ready to add one more to this list of popular Google services: GOOGLE FIBER.

Google Irvine Office
PHOTO: Google’s Irvine office located at 19510 Jamboree Rd #300, Irvine, CA 92612.

Irvine will be Orange County’s first city to have Google Fiber.

Here are some short-term and long-term changes that are headed our way:

    • Google Fiber will offer broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit or 1,000 megabits/second
    • Consumers will likely receive better service and more competitive pricing from existing Internet Service Providers due to competition from Google Fiber
    • Faster internet connection and more affordability will likely mean increased usage of Google’s services by consumers

Irvine currently has two main Internet Service Providers: Cox Communications (Cable) and AT&T U-Verse (DSL).  As of the writing of this article, Cox charges $39.99 for up to 15mbps and AT&T charges $45 for up to 18mbps. Higher connection speeds are offered by both companies: Cox has a package for $84.99 for up to 300mbps and AT&T offers $65 for up to 45mbps. (Note: rates are 1-year promo rates and regular rates are higher for all packages.) AT&T’s U-Verse with GigaPower is also available in some parts of Irvine. Packages range from approximately $80-120, depending on if you allow for tracking of your internet history and targeted banner ads.  Google Fiber packages range from $50 to $130 for internet and TV subscriptions. Small business packages range from $70 to $250.

The timing of when Google Fiber (internal name “Access”) will arrive is yet unclear. Just this week, Google announced that they are putting a hold on plans for Google Fiber in at least two Silicon Valley cities to explore cheaper alternatives for cable networks. Indeed Mountain View and Palo Alto have also had their projects delayed. Last month, Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet ordered that employees on the Google Fiber workforce be cut from 1,000 employees to 500, due to subscription numbers being lower than anticipated.

Previous Google Fiber roll out plans included an estimated 60% of cable networks and 40% aerial. With the recent acquisition of Webpass, a high-speed, fiber internet provider, it is likely Google will focus more on aerial networks using Webpass’ point-to-point wireless connection technologies as opposed to the time-consuming installation of underground fiber cables.

Google Fiber has already gone live in seven major cities all outside of California. Google Fiber is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google. (Traded as NASDAQ: GOOGL.) Following the restructuring of the company in October of 2015, Google Fiber became part of Alphabet Inc.’s “Access and Energy” business unit.

Some analysts have opined that Google’s intention all along was merely to encourage other ISPs to improve their service and lower their rates so that consumers would have more accessibility to Google products. These analysts suggest Google has no real interest in competing in the ISP market. “It’s not clear (Google was) ever all that serious about doing this at any real size.” said Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson Research.

Whether Google intends to compete in the ISP market or simply encourage traditional ISPs to build up their own networks, the effect of Google Fiber will be substantial. Roger Entner, an analyst with Recon Analytics LLC was quoted by Bloomberg as saying, “Markets that Google enters enjoy a $20-a-month drop in prices, on average.”

PHOTO: "Irvine welcomes you"
PHOTO: “Irvine welcomes you”

So what else could the arrival of Google mean for us consumers? For entertainment purposes, you’ll be able to stream Game of Thrones or the next Olympics without buffering or stuttering. Gamers will also enjoy a lag-free gaming experience.

On the business side of things, Google has announced Google Fiber packages for small businesses, which could translate to better productivity and more accessibility to higher levels of video conferencing such as HD video conferencing or virtual presence meetings. Other business usages include telemedicine where doctors could simulate office visits with patients without actually meeting in person or virtual coaching sessions between a coach and an athlete or client.

More affordable internet service could also help nonprofit organizations and low-income individuals have more access to high speed internet.

Pros and cons a plenty with the arrival of the internet giant, the company whose unofficial motto is “Do no evil.” One thing is certain, with Irvine’s rapid growth in population and business, the arrival of Google Fiber will only accelerate our growth.