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Google Fiber Wants to 'Explore' Chicago. What Does That Mean?

By David Matthews | December 11, 2015 6:22am
 Here are Google's next steps in bringing its superfast Internet to Chicago, according to Google.
Here are Google's next steps in bringing its superfast Internet to Chicago, according to Google.
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CHICAGO — Beleaguered cable customers throughout Chicago raved about recent news that Google wants to bring its superfast "Fiber" Internet lines here. 

Now what?

The tech giant, which announced its plans for Chicago Tuesday, has a long list of questions it asks of cities before installing its fiber lines that work much faster than traditional copper cables. The questions are focused on cities' existing telecom infrastructure and how Google could work with it, as Fiber could otherwise require Google to buy properties throughout the city.

“Building a fiber network is a big job, so advance planning goes a long way toward helping us minimize disruption for residents and build in an efficient manner," Google says in the 16-page document.

Google said Tuesday it is "inviting" city officials to allow the company to explore installing the Fiber service here. The announcement was immediately met with enthusiasm from Chicagoans whose frustrations with their cable providers are well documented on social media and beyond. But figuring out where Google can plant Fiber and its distribution "huts" is just one step in a long process to design and build the new network.

Google said it gives prospective Fiber cities a six-week "deadline" to fill out its check list, and, when asked by DNAinfo Chicago, the company said "ideally" city officials here would answer their questions within eight weeks. Because those discussions just started, there's no Fiber timeline yet, but Google said the city seems "incredibly enthusiastic" so far.

A spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel reiterated the mayor's statement earlier this week when asked about Fiber's next steps:

"High speed broadband internet is a key ingredient for job growth today and part of the foundation for an even stronger economy tomorrow," Emanuel said. "Google Fiber would be the latest milestone in our work to make Chicago the most connected city in the nation."

In Austin, Texas, Fiber is free for basic Internet, but high-speed "Gigabit" Internet costs $70 per month. Gigabit Internet and television service costs $130 per month. So far, Google Fiber has been credited for bringing down Internet and TV costs in the markets where it exists, but the service has been criticized for still not being affordable enough for the low-income neighborhoods that are most often deprived of Internet access.

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