Business & Economy

Google explores fiber service in Los Angeles; AT&T launches its first fiber in LA

File: Google Fiber rolls out in Provo, Utah.
File: Google Fiber rolls out in Provo, Utah.
George Frey/Reuters/Landov

Google announced Tuesday that they would be exploring Los Angeles and Chicago as potential markets for for Google Fiber high-speed Internet service. This follows AT&T announcing Monday that they were bringing GigaPower fiber optic broadband service to limited parts of L.A. and West Palm Beach, with more L.A. expansion to come.

"Those two companies are really betting big on a tech infrastructure that also has huge ramifications from improving quality of life, in education, in future job creation and other areas for Los Angeles as well," L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said.

According to L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's office, these services offer Internet speeds from 20 to 200 times faster than what people currently experience. He noted that both companies looking at L.A. means they'll potentially be competing against each other, which he said could be good for consumers.

"Why this is important for our economy is we have companies, from editors in Hollywood working on movies digitally to folks that are working on virtual reality, or video games, that need that sort of guarantee of speed to be able to do the work, and to locate the companies here that they do," Garcetti said.

Google notes that they're beginning an exploratory phase, and that they don't guarantee that they'll bring fiber to L.A. or Chicago.

Garcetti said that they would be seeking to work with both companies both to make fiber available where it would be used the most, while trying to make sure they don't create a new digital divide with those who don't have access to it. He said that he would be looking at getting fiber installed in places like public housing, libraries and recreation centers.

Google said no to installing fiber in L.A. two years ago, Garcetti said, due to the large size of L.A.

"I think what they came to realize is they can't not be here, and this is such an important market, and so many people want to be able to utilize that, for commerce, for entertainment, for education, and for their homes, that sort of connectivity."

Garcetti said that officials had spent the last two years working to make L.A. the most fiber-ready city in the country, including streamlining permits and bringing together public services to help with laying fiber.

Garcetti said that prices are competitive, with service in other areas coming at around $70 per month, or $120 to $130 with cable. Currently, about 60,000 people have access to Internet speeds of this level, Garcetti said, but that that could expand to millions.

Garcetti said he expected Google to start laying fiber next year, with omnipresent fiber access in two to five years.

The city is also trying to expand access to wi-fi, including on streets and other public plaing public transportation, Garcetti said. He noted the city had started putting microcells into street lights to help mobile connectivity.

AT&T launched their service at the Eight and Grand and Hanover Grand Avenue apartment complexes Monday — both of which are located downtown — with plans to expand to parts of the larger L.A. metro area in 2016, according to the company.

"In L.A., faster Internet may mean that indie musicians and YouTube stars can spend less time worrying about bandwidth, and more time creating their next project," Jill Szuchmacher, Google Fiber Expansion, wrote on the Google Fiber blog. She also praised its potential for tech, filmmaking, entrepreneurship and general home use.