Call it the rapture of the nerds: Google Fiber is coming to San Francisco.
Ultra-fast Internet access will soon reach "some apartments, condos and affordable housing properties" in the West Coast enclave, Michael Slinger, Google Fiber's director of business operations, wrote in a blog post Wednesday.
Even though San Francisco is a thriving center of technology and anchor for Silicon Valley, its homes and businesses don't enjoy Web access that's any better than the rest of the U.S. The city of more than 800,000 even lags behind some smaller urban areas that already boast fiber-optic Gigabit connections, which can be ten times faster than what most providers offer.
Google, part of Alphabet Inc., is going to change that—although it's taking a slightly different approach from the places where Google Fiber is already up and running. Instead of building out a network, Google will tap into existing fiber in San Francisco. While this speeds up deployment, the drawback is it won't be available everywhere.
Still, by doing so, Google may help to reduce broadband prices for people not reached by its own services, says Blair Levin, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. "They have to be a credible threat to get Comcast, AT&T and so on, to make change," he said. "In a couple years we're going to have these cities in America where people have three or four competitively priced options."
Google Fiber will also connect some of San Francisco's public and affordable housing properties for free, an effort it's making in other U.S. cities as a way to provide Internet access to poorer neighborhoods.
Not only will San Francisco's technophiles get their hands on fast Internet access, they may also get some bragging rights. That's because Google Fiber is on track to be up and running before Mountain View, California—which is on the list of cities that are slated to get Google Fiber, and also home to Google's headquarters.