Trending
MOST READ
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
Best Happy Hour

Best Happy Hour

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
San Antonio’s Transgender Community Shows its Pride

San Antonio’s Transgender Community Shows its Pride

The Pride Issue: Despite the common belief that it was transgender activist Sylvia Rivera who sparked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement by flinging her high... By Jade Esteban Estrada 7/2/2014
Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Daniela Riojas’ Photographic Studies in Self-discovery

Arts & Culture: Daniela Riojas explores ideas of the figure in art, Latin American rituals, letting go of the past, and Jungian archetypes in... By Tom Turner 9/17/2014
Cityscrapes: Local history pays the price for Briscoe deal

Cityscrapes: Local history pays the price for Briscoe deal

News: The annual City budget is a dense and often arcane thing, filled with “mandates,” “restricted funds,” and “special funds.” It isn’t the lightest reading... By Heywood Sanders 9/17/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

Will Google Fiber Bridge San Antonio's Digital Divide?

Photo: Courtesy of the Open Technology Institute, License: N/A

Courtesy of the Open Technology Institute

The map reveals disparities in internet access along socio-economic and geographical lines


“Just like the transition from dial-up to broadband, we believe gigabit speed will produce all sorts of innovation that we can’t even fathom,” says Wandres. “It’s the future of the web.”

Aside from speed, another alluring aspect of the project is the network’s affordability. When former state representative Mark Strama, who now heads Google Fiber efforts in Austin, joined Castro’s announcement in February, he pointed to costs currently offered in Kansas City: Residents there can get gigabit internet for $70 month, bundle the service with TV for $120 or pay a $300 construction fee for seven years (or $25/month for a year) of basic broadband speed. While the network would be sized for the entire city, the question of who gets access is up to communities.

But a fiber network doesn’t just mean faster speeds; it also guarantees disruption in the community.

In order to be considered, SA and the other metros are required to go through a few hoops. That includes figuring out what permits are needed to build the network, accessing infrastructure and identifying what structures are already in place.

San Antonio cleared the first hurdle, completing those requirements on May 1. In fact, the city is ahead of the game—in March, city council approved a long-term master lease contract with Google to install 40 “Fiberhuts” (storage sheds that house tech equipment, expected to be installed at municipally-owned spots around town), making SA the first city in the running to complete a hut license agreement.

“Now we are just waiting for Google to assess all that data and come back to let us know if they are officially coming to San Antonio,” Hugh Miller, the City of San Antonio’s chief technology officer, tells the Current.

San Antonio also has an advantage over some cities by virtue of owning its electric company. CPS Energy controls about 86 percent of the poles that would allow for deployment, rather than a big broadband company, like AT&T, which pushed back hard against an attempt by Austin’s city council to force the telecom company to allow Google Fiber to use its poles.

Wandres says the next step is for Google to survey the checklist, draw up maps of the city and figure out where to place fiber cables—a time-consuming process. And even if San Antonio does make the cut, it will be years until the service is available to consumers.

“We anticipate once [Google] announce[s], it’ll be about a three-to-four-year build-out,” predicts Miller.

If and when Fiber does roll out here, Miller envisions increased benefits like interactive class instruction, telemedicine services, telecomuting and professional recruitment. Quality of digital life could improve even further with the City’s plans to negotiate public wi-fi in the deal. Today, COSA provides public internet access to some parks, the airport, libraries and a few municipal buildings—the preliminary fiber plan could greatly expand that.

A final decision won’t be made until the end of the year, but signs are promising that San Antonio is, at least, being strongly considered.

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus