Google Plans to Announce Something in Austin Next Week

Published on April 5, 2013
by Arik Hesseldahl

austin-t-shirtGoogle and the city of Austin, Texas, will be making what they call a “very important announcement” next week — at least, according to a batch of invitations that have been sent to reporters in the last few hours.

VentureBeat is speculating that the company will reveal the next city selected to become part of the Google Fiber project, which the search giant started in the Kansas City area last year. Or that Austin might become the home of the latest Google campus.

In case you missed it, Google’s idea with Google Fiber is to offer smoking-fast 1 gigabit broadband Internet connections — almost but not entirely unique in the USalong with pay TV service, all via its own fiber optic lines.

One reason that it’s probably not Google Fiber is that months before Google made its formal announcement about the service, it first petitioned local regulators to allow it do so, and it was widely covered by the media. (Cable TV rights are, in most states, regulated at the city or county level.) There hasn’t been a peep about regulatory approval for Austin.

What else might it be? A new building? Maybe. There are plenty of tech companies, including Apple and Dell, with big presences in Austin. Or maybe just free Wi-Fi for a few neighborhoods. Google did that in New York City — not the whole city, mind you, just the neighborhood surrounding its massive office in the Chelsea section of Manhattan — earlier this year, and even got Mayor Bloomberg himself to show up at the announcement.

If Google Fiber it is, it may mean that Google is simply announcing its intent to start a process that will include seeking local regulatory approval. Indeed, Austin has been campaigning to be among the next cities to which Google brings its fiber pipes. Here’s a short video in support of that effort starring game developer and space tourist Richard Garriott.

(Image is of this awesome t-shirt from KONG Screenprinting in Austin.)

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