Google Fiber is in line to expand into Louisville, Ky., the company confirmed Wednesday.
“Many have eagerly waited to hear these words: Google Fiber is coming to Louisville,” Mayor Greg Fischer told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Google Fiber told the newspaper it plans to test speeds about 20 times faster than conventional broadband, but that details of how it would roll out the service would come later.
Unlike in past cities — Google Fiber first launched its ultra-high-speed internet service in Kansas City in 2012 — the broadband planned for the Kentucky city might not string fiber optic lines directly to homes.
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Rather, reports TechRepublic, Louisville will be “the first city that will be built solely on Google Fiber’s new infrastructure that uses wireless technology for the neighborhood connections to homes and businesses.”
If that report holds up, it would mark a significant new stage in Google’s on-and-off efforts to sell what were previously seen as industrial-strength internet connections to home consumers.
Deployment of a wireless system to beam super-quick broadband to homes might kickstart the mostly dormant expansion of Google Fiber service into pockets of Kansas City and into new markets. But based on the company’s past experience, outfitting Louisville may take years. Transferring that technology to Kansas City probably wouldn’t come until it underwent real-world tests in Kentucky.
In 2010, the Mountain View, Calif., company announced moon shot-type plans to pipe internet connections to residential customers that could move uploads as swiftly as downloads and at a gigabit per second — more than 100 times faster than the average hook-up in the United States at the time.
Google has said it wanted to show that better broadband is economically feasible. It hoped to pressure other internet service providers to follow its example. In fact, other cable and telecom companies have significantly increased speeds without hiking prices. Kansas City, in particular, has benefited from new competition.
Google Fiber has said repeatedly that faster internet keeps people on the internet longer — research shows fractions of seconds determine whether people stick with a Web search — and exposed to the advertising that’s made Google one of the most valuable companies in the world.
Kansas City, Kan., was chosen the first city for the project in early 2011 after beating out more than 1,000 cities angling for the chance to improve their internet and capture the high-tech cachet expected to follow.
It took a year and a half to light up the first homes and another three years before Google Fiber was widely available across the market.
Along the way — both in Kansas City and other markets — Google Fiber found itself mired in fights for access to utility poles so it could install the wires providing the backbone of the network. Even with a system like the one reportedly coming to Louisville, the company would still need to win those battles.
The company has largely found backing from Louisville officials in its negotiations over those regulations, along with support from the Federal Communications Commission.
In the last year, Google Fiber has fallen into a stall. It moved key leaders of its division into other parts of Alphabet, its parent company, along with hundreds of other workers.
Last October, it conceded publicly that it had paused expansion and hoped to find wireless alternatives to the expensive and disruptive work of tearing up streets, sidewalks and yards to plant fiber optic lines.
In April 2016, Google Fiber got an OK from Kansas City officials to mount experimental radio gear to light poles and other structures in select areas of town to test wireless broadband connections to cover the final leg of delivering home broadband.
The company has not said what it’s seen so far from that work.
TechRepublic says that Google Fiber has been close to announcing expansion into Louisville “at least a half dozen times, according to one source — including right before our investigative report published — only to pull the plug on the announcement at the last minute.”