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Google Fiber’s superfast Internet service to explore operating in Tampa

in 2017/Top Headlines by

Google Fiber is a high-speed fiber-optic network. Internet speeds on fiber optic cables are up to 100 times greater than the national average – and it looks like that service could be coming to Tampa.

Speaking at the University of Tampa on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Brien Bell, Google’s Regional Expansion Lead, jointly told members of the press that Google Fiber will begin “exploring” the opportunity to expand their Internet and TV service into Tampa.

Google prefers using the term “exploring” because it’s not a done deal that it will operate here, but if it’s up to them, it will. There are various regulations that have not made the service a natural fit in some cities where Google Fiber has wanted to operate in. The Wall Street Journal reported this summer that in the Portland area, Oregon tax-assessment rules are delaying a decision by Google to expand its Fiber service there,

If you haven’t heard of Google Fiber, don’t feel bad. It’s currently in operations in only three American cities – Kansas City, Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.

However, there are over a dozen others that Google is looking to expand into – such as Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.

“We are evaluating a lot of cities, we’re building in some cities and we’re serving cities in some cities,” said Bell.

The service was started in Kansas City in 2011.

There is no time table when the service might be up and working in Tampa.

“Before we dig up any streets, we’ll start with a series of detailed planning meetings, and do a lot of information gathering,” said Bell. “That will allow us to work together with city leaders up front, to plan what building a network here would look like. In sum, we know that great things can happen, when a community upgrades to a gigabit network. Faster speeds means more opportunity for innovation and development.”

Calling it an exciting day for Tampa, Buckhorn said that if the city is serious about building an entrepreneurial ecosystem, “we’ve got to have the ability to move data.”

“And our ability to move data gives us a competitive advantage,” he continued. “Speed is important. Particularly when you’re talking about telemedicine, when you’re talking about underserved communities, particularly when you’re talking about entrpreneurs to need to have the ability to move data as quickly as possible, and as large amount of capacity as possible.”

Prices will vary, but Bell says that if people sign on to the service once it’s available it would cost somewhere between $70 to $130 a month — comparable to Internet service offered by cable providers but at a much faster speed. A slower version is free after a one-time construction fee.

Whether Google Fiber can catch on and be a legitimate alternative to Verizon FIOS and Bright House remains to be seen, but there’s no questioning the blazing fast Internet speed it provides.

According to Akamai Technologies, a cloud services provider, the U.S. ranks just 17th in the world in Internet speed.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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