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Chicago and Los Angeles Are Next Up for Google Fiber (techcrunch.com)
325 points by iamlacroix on Dec 8, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 218 comments

As a Chicagoan I'm excited, but also worried it will lead to the incarceration of multiple public officials and a raw deal for the city, somehow.

Don't forget the new "fiber internet tax" they'll come up with to subsidize the losses of their buddies over at Comcast.

As a resident of Chicago, I thought the exact same thing. They will either have to pay off the right alderman or they will never get this built in under 5 years. Sometimes this city embarrasses me, while at other times, I'm really proud of the work the DoIT has done in Chicago. The data they are making available is great, if only they could modernize the rest of our city services...

Yeah, in some regards I'm being awfully cynical. As you said, there are also good things the city has done. You can even view the location of every snowplow in the city in real time; pretty cool when you're waiting for your one-way side street to be plowed.

People will think you're joking, but it's the first thing I thought, too. My parents live in Chicago, and they just roll their eyes about all the way people seem to steal from the city.

Ex-Chicagoan here. This is absolutely, positively not a joke. I can probably come up with a half dozen schemes that would use the fiber build-out as a thinly-veiled excuse to bleed both Google and city residents.

Let's try.

1. All network providers would be allowed to charge a new "infrastructure maintenance fee" to their customers. A fixed $2, plus 40% of the amount of the fee, would go to the city per customer-month. Most of the amount collected would go to a maintenance contractor chosen through a "competitive" bidding process.

2. Public schools, municipal offices, police stations, fire stations, and public libraries would be required to buy network access through a single company, who would also manage their public wi-fi access points. That company could strongarm the providers into selling at a discount, due to its size, yet would charge the municipal customers a grossly inflated price. The wi-fi service sucks for everyone.

3. All fiber work done on city or RTA property must be done by union members, CWA or IBEW, according to their local worksite rules.

4. An alderman stalls the fiber authorization measure in committee until receiving sufficient "lobbying" to move it along.

5. Google required to lay far more dark fibers than strictly necessary. Unknown parties light some up for their own uses, without paying.

6. Google required to give CPD special access to network, supposedly in order to combat CP and terr'ism. Special access instead used to run untraceable server to sell items out of the evidence lockups.

I'm a little upset that this all sounds entirely plausible.

Speaking of dark fiber in Chicago, I suspect the city owns a lot of it. Their surveillance network includes several hundred miles of fiber.

Most of those aren't even mututally exclusive.

Stop giving them ideas!! ;)

You're kidding, right? Those are all inspired by actual things Chicago has done.

What's the inspiration for 6? I know it's a running joke that evidence goes missing, but I don't think I've ever seen a news article about a specific instance in Chicago.

Never seen one? I'll fix that for you.


This, of course, does not even address the evidence that never even makes it into the lockup. Drug dealer keeps $20000 in cash at home. Raid seizes the $15000. Forfeiture suit filed against the $10000. The $5000 cannot be located in evidence a few months later.

Fellow Chicagoan here,

Google is going to have to grease quite a few palms to make this happen, if it ever does.

Politicians here have perpetuated the AT&T and Comcast duopoly for quite awhile, and I have no doubt that they are well compensated to do so.

For a new player to come into town who will raise quality of service and lower prices in a way that will force Comcast and AT&T to do the same in order to compete (resulting in lower profits and a lower payola budget) is not going to endear Google to anybody with an established interest in the status quo.

Learn to embrace your inner Schadenfreude.

I almost commented to the effect of, "Go, Google. Even though in general I might prefer a municipal deployment/solution."

I might... in other environments. In Chicago... Well, at least Illinois seems to be in the process of getting away from treating filming public officials as a felony offense. So, when the Fiber team captures all the indirect language and outstretched palms, maybe they will actually have the advantage.

I make this comment with mixed feelings and thoughts. I DON'T like a lot of the outsourcing and privatization as a means for a connected someone to middleman the revenue stream as well as perhaps dump on the actual workers (although sometimes, those workers have been making a killing).

But the City's done little to take on consumer abuse by AT&T, Comcast, etc. I don't see a source for a genuine and effective municipal effort.

So... let overwhelming consumer pressure force Google Fiber onto the poles, and let 'er rip. Google's bread is buttered elsewhere, giving more hope for a relatively clean and effective deployment.

P.S. There is also the business aspect to Fiber. Let businesses -- generally a bit more organized and consistently communicative -- in search/need of a better ISP get behind this, and maybe it will really take off.

Assuming Google doesn't start to flake in its support, as it has with many other "real world" products. One particular concern I would have in considering their viability.

At least you can get shit built in Chicago by paying people off. In places like Baltimore, you're just not allowed to build anything.

Similar in Seattle. Good luck getting Google Fiber here.

Uhh Seattle has fiber offerings already though? For example http://gowaveg.com/

That used to be called Condo Internet and that is in very select buildings. Even out in Redmond, minutes away from MSFT campus, once can only get either Comcast or crappy 3mbit DSL from Frontier.

Comcast is offering fiber in some places and there is a another fiber company south downtown near the stadiums. Point is offerings exist.

Maybe not Google Fiber, but CenturyLink has me scheduled for gigabit fiber installation next month. North Seattle resident.

> worried it will lead to the incarceration of multiple public officials

Would that be a bad thing? I'm in New York, and I'll dance in the street if (when?) Preet Bharara charges Cuomo.

It doesn't really change anything in Chicago. While it might be nice to get some individual corrupt official(s) where they belong, Chicago as a whole shows no evidence that it's becoming less corrupt.

I think it is significantly less corrupt than under Daleys. You are confusing levels and changes. It is still very corrupt, just less so

> incarceration of multiple public officials and a raw deal for the city.

What? How?


> The Windy City has kept its crown as the most corrupt major city in the country over the last 40 years. But Houston is starting to give Chicago a run for its money.

> According to new research released today by University of Illinois at Chicago political science professor Dick Simpson, there were 45 convictions for public corruption in 2013 (the latest year available) in the U.S. court district that covers the Chicago area. That's way, way above the 19 convictions in Los Angeles and 13 in the Southern District of New York (Manhattan). But Houston had far and away the most pols convicted on federal corruption charges in 2013, with 83.

Chicago has a habit of not even negotiating good terms, while turning over public infrastructure to private enterprise in 99 year leases. A short term cash fix comes at the expense of bleeding citizens for the next 5 generations or so. The Skyway. The parking garages. The parking meters.

Traffic law enforcement going to faulty and corrupt traffic camera companies, based/excused upon arguments that are suspect at best. E.g. red light cameras, particularly but not only with the yellow cycles reduce to or below the legal minimum time apparently solely to increase the number of infractions, leading to increased occurrences of accidents and particularly of more dangerous accidents.

And that's not even getting into the decades of "The Machine" that politicized and monetized anything with a pocket to shake a nickle out of.

Chicago has upsides. Per my first line (in my other comment here, I guess), some even find the politics to be so: As long as you enjoy it as a contact sport.

ironically, the current mayor got a big commission check from the banks for facilitating some of those bad deals.

so the more convictions, the more corrupt?

There will be plenty more not getting caught

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

I'm from Chicago. You gotta live here to understand.

I'm from chicago too, so I guess I do understand by that logic.

I'm not even sure what we're arguing about, in fact

> I'm not even sure what we're arguing about, in fact


You are both "from Chicago"? Meaning, the city itself or the suburbs. Big difference. The suburbs are not Chicago.

I live in CHICAGO.

This year one of them was released, but up until then, IL was the only state in the US to have 3 previous governors serving prison time for corruption. Yeah... it really is that bad. However, most all of the corruption happens where the money is... in the City of Chicago / Cook County.

Chicago mayors have a bad track record too.

While some more recent examples have not yet ended in jail time for city officials [1][2] they have ended up in pretty bad deals for the city.

[1]http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-parking... [2]http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/redlight/ct-chic...

Chicago has a talent for it.

The short-lived TV series Boss would tell you about the Chicago climate. Since I don't have first hand experience living in Chicago, I cannot compare Chicago to NYC, but from the sound of comments and the TV series, Chicago seems to be pretty notorious.

it will also lead, hopefully, to less grainy videos of cops shooting fleeing suspects in the back.

I can't wait for this in LA. I'm currently paying $115 per month for 1Mbps/10Mbps for Time Warner "business class" internet-only service. My company does visual effects work, so I actually have to drive my video files home on a USB drive to upload them since my home connection is 20Mbps/200Mbps for $50 per month. The internet monopoly situation in the US is terrible for businesses here.

We pay $300/mo for 35/5 TWC Business Class in West LA. It's a complete rip off, but there are few other options. Verizon DSL is available up to 5Mbps, or we could hard wire a T1 for $1k/month.

I'm optimistic about Google Fiber but I'll believe it when I see it.

This is so ridiculous, it's literally unbelievable. My home city, Kiev(Ukraine), has multiple 1 Gbit residential broadband providers for $6 - $15. Not joking.

As I learned in New Zealand, the data rate to the ISP is largely irrelevant. I had a 100mbps+ connection in NZ, but rarely got over 2mbps to any international location. It would speedtest at full line rate.

However, here in the US, I've got a 50mbps connection, and I regularly get 50mbps.

US broadband interconnects with the rest of the network are pretty terrible.

Reference: those name-and-shame articles a while back from a network company (Level 3, from memory?) that produced hard numbers on how little $ US cable/DSL internet companies were willing to put into improving their capacity at the peer link.

[Edit] Yup, Level 3. I thought they were interesting because hard numbers at this level seem difficult to come by. Here are the articles from 2014:



These are mostly real international data transfer rates, at least for torrents/CDN servers/S3.

Average salary in Kiev is also, what, 400 Euros per month? With LA's (generously median) 3000 Euros per month that turns out to be the same (if 15$ is taken into account). Vast difference is in speed. So, what's up LA?

Ukraine and Romania successfully avoided Deutsche Telekom monopoly.

Thank you brave Soviet soldiers of the Great Patriotic War.

this is for 'business class' service, which is often in office buildings. metro fiber and ethernet is really, really, really expensive in these buildings because of other monopoly factors - the cable companies wish they could compete here, but they sometimes can't.

for example, symmetrical 10mbps metro ethernet is close to $2k/month here in LA. yes, for real.

commercial service has higher SLA's (which really doesn't mean a damn thing, it's just tradition) and is more expensive.

it's highly dependent on your office building's location. cable companies and fiber operators do not canvas entire commercial districts like they do residential areas.

ISP competition in Kiev is intense. Business rates for symmetrical ethernet are around $50-200/month for 100 Mbit and $300-500/month for 1Gbit eth/fiber. Monopoly sucks.

Most of the cost of deploying fiber is labor, and that costs 5-10x more in the U.S. Also, eastern European countries see fast Internet as a competitive advantage. American cities don't see the need.

I bet in Kiev, a fiber provider wanting to lay fiber wouldn't be turned down for not agreeing to wife up the poor neighborhoods that couldn't afford it any way. That's what happens here.

Right, that's why Netherlands, Sweden and South Korea have similarly slow data transfer rates and high prices as US. /s

Also most high speed connections in Kiev are not fiber but ethernet cables.

Broadband deployment in the U.S. is almost entirely a matter of state and municipal-level rather than national-level policies. For example, Virginia, where my parents live, has significantly faster average speeds than either Sweden or the Netherlands: http://www.amic.media/media/files/file_352_841.pdf (see pp. 18, 32).

the truth can't be literally unbelievable by definition.

My least favorite aspect of these stories has to be all the people who like to list out the price of internet connectivity as if it lives in a vacuum. It's not really a meaningful datapoint on its own for a number of reasons, and the conversation it engenders is almost never worth reading.

> the truth can't be literally unbelievable by definition.

Why? How does the truth of a story have any bearing on its believability.

(Eg some people are literally unable to believe some scientific facts.)

I should move to Ukraine. Need a roommate?!

Ukraine is insanely cheap for digital nomads. $2000/month will get you a very high quality of life, including a 2 or 3 bedroom apartment in a city center, great food from restaurants, adequate access to modern healthcare and diverse nightlife/culture venues.

I feel your pain. TWC business class is the scam of the century. TWC really has colluded the market here. In our current office, we basically have no choice: TWC or Verizon DSL at 3Mbps for $100+ per month. What is this? 1997?

Their service from what I hear is shoddy, crappy customer service and of course they really take you for what's it worth when it comes to the bandwidth / cost ratio -- because they can apparently.

A great solution is to grab a T-Mobile LTE Hotspot for $110 / month (21GB max data limit unfortunately) but you're getting 60-80Mbps downstream. It's solid. Rig it to a router and spread the WAN signal to your LAN.

So literally 300 seconds worth of internet for $100/month?

edit: B b blah. 2,400 seconds.

You're off by a factor of 8, bandwidth is typically measured in bits per second while data is typically measured in bytes. Also, saying that they only have DATA_CAP / BANDWIDTH amount of time to use the internet is disingenuous at best, the only time that you're using 100% of the available bandwidth for any sustained amount of time is when downloading a large file. 21 GBs isn't a ton of data but that can easily last someone a month if they're just using it for web browsing for business purposes only. Online backup is out of the question but for just email and web browsing that data cap isn't too big of a deal.

I think that's 21GBytes / month @ 70Mbps = 2,400 seconds.

Honestly, if your options are share a 3Mbit connection with a few people or have a fast connection limited to 21Gbytes / month I could see paying for that out of pocket.

I had to do something similar. I have 25Mbps/Mbps DSL where I live for $70/mo. If I wanted to upload a file for work (10-20GB), I would have to drive to my office about an hour away. I recently found a co-work location that is 15 mins. away so I go there when I need to.

It is sad that I have no other hard line option other than DSL in my area. Satellite and Verizon Wireless for home are other nonfeasable options available.

I've got the 20/200 package as well and I can consistently max the connection on both speedtests as well as actual downloading. No beefs with TW's service here.

You have your numbers mixed up....It actually does make a difference

Strange—in New York I pay TWC $83 a month for 300/30.

Edit: 300/20

Consumer service in LA is pretty good, around $90 for 200/20 in most areas. It's TWC Business Class that's a horrible rip off.

New York is a lot more dense, it doesn't surprise me too much that the prices would be different.

Are you sure it isn't 300/20?

(also you have a pretty good deal - I have 200/20 for $80)

We are right in the center of Midtown NYC and TWC business class is $350 for 100/10. Other option is Verizon DSL at $90!

Sadly, Seattle bureaucracy has ruined google fiber here: http://crosscut.com/2014/12/google-fiber-never-come-seattle-...

Well in 2014 they did finally repeal the rule that prevented the network hardware from being installed: http://www.geekwire.com/2014/seattle-approves-bill-allows-fi...

Then they fixed the TV franchise issues: http://www.geekwire.com/2015/seattle-city-council-approves-l...

As a result of the first CenturyLink started rolling out (expensive) fiber, and after the second CL started offering Prism TV. So I think most of the blocking issues have been fixed now. Remains to be seen if/when Google Fiber will reconsider Seattle.

I'm in Seattle, and I have gigabit (www.gowaveg.com) in my apartment. It's $80/month, and I get ~15ms latency to AWS West (Oregon). It's wonderful.

Wave G has an interesting model - they mainly hook up apartment buildings (it used to be called "Condo Internet"). They are experimenting with hooking up houses on the street as well - they're doing fiber to the home in the Eastlake area, but I don't know if that's working out yet.

I love them. When we moved to Seattle we only looked at apartments that had Wave G service. I'm going to be very sad when we move out of Seattle and have to return to normal Internet. But so far this model is encouraging, if non-inclusive to people outside the nice apartments.

One of the biggest losses moving out of my old First Hill apartment was that they had CondoInternet and where I was going they didn't. I don't even care about the throughput, it was just incredibly reliable.

Centurylink has started rolling out Gigabit in the Seattle area: https://www.centurylink.com/fiber/plans-and-pricing/seattle-...

I saw trucks working on all the poles up and down my street. Sure enough, a month or so later their site showed my address eligible for gigabit. Goodbye Comcast!

I fear the same may happen here in Chicago.

It's just talk. Google has parts of three small cities wired. Google has never done a big city, or an entire city. Sonic already has parts of San Francisco hooked up with gigabit fiber.[1]

[1] https://www.sonic.com/gigabit-fiber-internet

I'm in Salt Lake City, where they announced they've been building a long time ago, and we ain't seen sh*t yet.

I'm in Atlanta and we've seen the trucks out laying fiber already. I'm hoping for the end of next year.

LA has had notoriously bad ISP coverage. Most houses in the area only have a choice between one cable provider or going DSL.

Nice to hear AT&T is planning to roll out gigabit fiber in LA as well. http://arstechnica.com/business/2015/12/att-bringing-gigabit...

For some reason Verizon Fios has avoided LA proper but laid out Fiber along the outskirts and in Ventura County years ago.

> For some reason Verizon Fios has avoided LA proper but laid out Fiber along the outskirts and in Ventura County years ago.

Not sure what you mean. I have Fios and I live in Los Angeles proper. The whole city doesn't have Fios, but parts of it certainly do.

Verizon at one point had grand plans of expanding FiOS through all of LA and eventually down through OC/San Diego (which was good news for me as a San Diego person), but about 5 years back they stopped expansion of covered areas.

They essentially killed FiOS off, but kept servicing customers in areas they already built out in.

So if you're in LA and you have FiOS, lucky you, but those who don't have it never will because they aren't building out at all anymore.

There is virtually no Verizon wireline presence (i.e. ex-GTE territory) in San Diego County, SD never had any chance of getting FiOS. See the map: ftp://ftp.cpuc.ca.gov/Telco/ILEC%20Territories%20in%20CA%202008.pdf I'm surprised how small Verizon's territory is even in OC, some of the beach cities but nothing else.

PacBell had grand plans to install fiber optics in SD ~20 years ago, I even remember our front lawn in Mira Mesa getting torn up. Naturally, they never lit it up. See http://newnetworks.com/californiabroadband.html

This was me for a long time in DTLA, my only choice was AT&T for $50 a month for 8/1. Now I have Time Warner and I pay $55 for 200/20. Much happier.

TWC coverage is not bad - my addresses in LA each have had 300Mbps available for $65/mo. Speed tests clock in around 330Mbps down.

As a recent LA transplant from SF, I found it ironic that TWC offers such a fast, affordable internet service, yet SF - arguably the modern global hub of tech - struggles with slow, expensive internet, almost throughout.

As a tech worker, this is easily one of the better LA v. SF advantages.

TWC coverage here in Rochester, NY is $84/month for 50Mbps.

I'd guess you only get 6x the speed for less money in LA in places where fiber is a viable competitor.

I have gigabit fiber at my house in Rochester for $100/month via the new upstart ISP, Greenlight (actually their lower 500Mbps tier for $75/mo). They're expanding slowly, but they are expanding.

I'm drooling over Greenlight. Thus far they seem to be prioritizing high-density areas like apartment complexes, though. Down in Pittsford it's not looking hopeful for a few years at least.

> Yes, San Francisco has been skipped again and I’m going to go cry into my slow internet from Comcast.

I seriously still cannot get over how funny this is.

SF pitches itself as the centre of the tech universe, and yet, it still hasn't "disrupted" its own crappy broadband infrastructure. (Much less the rest of the country's!)

I'm sure there's many good reasons for Google passing them over, but that doesn't keep it from being hilarious.

Chris Sacca (of Twitter / Uber investing fame) spent months / years of his life working for Google trying to get San Francisco to agree to install free, city-wide WiFi paid for by Google. It didn't happen.


Heh - I was doing this before Chris Sacca was!

Listen to what happened:

We were seeking to build wifi and wanted to get the city to allow us to put the nema boxes on street lights and stop lights.

I cant recall the officials name now (this was ~2002 or so) -- and they came back and stated they wanted video cameras on all stop lights. They then said that they wanted "at least 60 frames per second" and that they wouldn't allow us to put up the devices as they were already looking to pull fiber to every stoplight to support cameras.


Good for him! Glad to see people fighting the good fight.

While we're at it, SF has also failed to "disrupt" its own housing crisis (until very recently), its infrastructural issues, its transport problems (well, I suppose ridesharing is the workaround), its flagrant income disparity issues, and the fact that the whole industry which has enabled remote work and teleconferencing is still shackled into this overcrowding, overpriced region.

"Hacker, disrupt thyself."

> (until very recently)

What happened?

I was referring to the pro-growth/housing measures that won in the municipal election last month. Though it's hardly disruption, as it is "finally dealing with."

The housing measures that help reduce the housing supply by allowing apartments and condos to serve as short-term AirBNB rentals for non-residents?

Certainly, it's pro-growth (for AirBNB), but I don't see how it's pro-housing for anyone else. Unless you expect to live week to week in AirBNB rentals.

Even using wildest estimates of the proponents of the anti-AirBNB measure, AirBNB involves a negligible fraction of the city's housing units. It was only related to housing by political rhetoric. Surely the commenter upthread was talking about the moratorium on development in the Mission.

AirBNB involves a negligible fraction of the city's housing units.

A more relevant metric would be the AirBNB rentals relative to the vacant rental units. A rough estimate indicates:

- There are 300+ "Entire home" units available in SF next week on AirBNB. AirBNB says this represents 15% of the total supply. This would suggest there are 2,000+ such units in total registered on AirBNB (though I presume some of those are occupied units that are only listed when their occupants are out of town).

- The rental vacancy rate in San Francisco is 3.6% of 220,000 units, or about 8,000 vacant rental units total.

- This suggests that the percentage of unoccupied units that are serving as AirBNB units ranges from 3.6% (300/8300) to over 20% (2000/10000) Even at the overly conservative rate of 3%, this is a non-negligible fraction in a city with a rental shortage. Rents tend to jump sharply when the rental vacancy rate falls too low, and SFs vacancy rate is among the lowest in the nation.

Surely the commenter upthread was talking about the moratorium on development in the Mission.

You're likely right.

Suppose ABNB shuts down tomorrow and all the owners decide to put their units on the long-term rental market instead. OK, you've got your 20% bump... for one week. The open house starts, an hour later those units are all rented, and how do you suppose prices look the next month? 2000 units of rental housing is 2000 units of rental housing. The right comparison is between the number of units used for short-term vs. long-term housing, not between the number of units used for short term rental and the number of long term rentals available right now.

No. There is constant churn of long-term apartments being leased and vacated. If you increase the total supply of long-term apartments, this affects the rental market from that point forward.

Mission Rock got approved, a small affordable housing bond was approved, a measure making it easier for the city to sell surplus land to developers, and the Mission moratorium failed.

Small potatoes, but still in the "maybe we should build more housing" direction, so, tasty potatoes.

> The housing measures that help reduce the housing supply by allowing apartments and condos to serve as short-term AirBNB rentals for non-residents? ...I don't see how it's pro-housing for anyone else.

The situation on the ground is... substantially more interesting than you make it out to be. You should really read this partial analysis of the existing short-term rental regulation and the changed proposed by Prop F: https://www.jwz.org/blog/2015/10/yes-on-f/#comment-164412 Edit: NOTE. You'll need to copy and paste the link, rather than clicking on it. HN triggers JWZ's anti-hotlinking code.

If anything in the prose is unclear, feel free to ask questions.

The city got a blank check for 300M to make the problem go away (but it won't because they dont want to be NYC, so they limit supply, but then demand with money exceeds so prices go up)

Internet in SF is good enough to deliver Javascript, that's all Silicon Valley really is.

Sonic.net will likely beat Google in building out gigabit in SF. This megathread has been following their progress in the Sunset (and soon the Richmond) since 2013:


According to the CEO, though some of the issues have been related to permitting/bureaucracy, they have also had some contractor-related setbacks as well.

There is no likely; their truck just ran fiber in front my house in sunset. $40/mo for gigabit.

The problem with Sonic is their 12 month contract

First month is free, and contract doesn't kick in until after that. For me the math worked:

Was paying $100/month for 20Mb Comcast. Now paying $40/month for 30Mb Sonic. Penalty for breaking the 12 month contract early is $150. So after 2.5 months of good service, I'm in the black even if I have to cancel early.

Anecdotally, their technicians were the smartest I've ever met. I learned a lot about DSL and how they get 30MB out of 2 lines. I also learned that my 2014 MacBook pro can't even handle more than ~20Mb over wifi. My iPhone 6S is now running at about 27Mb, and I get 35Mb when wired to the router. I'm in the Inner Richmond.

Alright, the math makes sense for you. In my case, it would have been $10 cheaper than Comcast, but 1/5 of the speed, and I'd be locked into a year of service.

The speeds on your equipment are probably due to a poor router. I had no issues maxing out 100mbit over wifi on my Mac and iPhone (then I moved...)

Webpass[1] has been pretty "disruptive." It's only available in larger buildings, but the service and price point are fantastic.

[1] https://webpass.net/

I paid $45 a month with Webpass for 100MB symmetrical when I lived in SF (back in '08) - pretty good deal. Looks like my old building can now get fiber with them.

I recently moved to San Francisco from Chicago. I was paying $45/month for 25 mbps in Chicago, and I now pay $50/month for 150 mbps in SF. It feels like Chicago needs Fiber more than we do.

What ISP are you getting 150 mbps at $50/mo from?


Meanwhile, my service cost jumped, so I re-upped for another Xfinity 12 month scam where instead of charging me $75/mo for 75mbit internet only, they charge me $55/mo for Internet in exchange for allowing myself to be listed as a "cable subscriber" in a sad effort to keep their TV subscriber numbers up.

That's right, their margins on internet are s huge they'd rather pay me $20 a month, plus pay the content providers (including HBO!) for another customer, than lose a "tv subscriber".

Nevermind that the cable box sits in my attic for another year.

Funny. I pay $45/month for 155 in Chicago.

Huh, it's a shame there isn't more transparency (or consistency) in pricing.

There factors for cities to consider besides competitive composition of existing providers. For instance, in Atlanta google fiber crews are destroying the streets, breaking utilities, and leaving really poor asphalt patches behind (especially noticeable in bike lanes). I hope, but doubt, that when they are finished, google will resurface all the roads they impacted.

I have no idea, but the underground conditions/road closure implications in SF could be even more challenging.

Relatedly, AT&T will be rolling out gigabit service in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland in 2016:


The caveat, of course, being that not everyone in these cities will be covered.

> The caveat, of course, being that not everyone in these cities will be covered.

Nor will there ever be universal coverage in those cities. It'll be Fios all over again. (Assuming that ATT even actually deploys the service and this isn't just a zero-cost feint to prevent our City Supervisors from inviting Google Fiber into the city.)

I recall in the 90s, many large areas in San Jose didnt get DSL for a REALLY long time. I have always been floored by this. I tried to meet with the mayor of Alameda last year to see if we could do a community municipal network. Their answer "Oh we used to have one - but we gave the rights to Comcast, so we wont allow another municipal network."

SF is so wildly incompetent that startups get invented to fix the problems of living in the bay area. They succeed because the govt. alternative is so bad.

It's probably not actually true in many cases, but you get that feeling.

For example, if SF cabs weren't so horrible, would Uber gotten it's initial traction? Would it exist today?

I don't live in SF proper but why can't Google Fiber come to the surrounding areas? There are plenty of communities that could use this outside of SF.

They're going to San Jose, that's a start. It's likely they'll spread around a bit from there with time.

At a minimum, having Google Fiber that close should spur San Francisco locals to get louder about the problem.

IIRC, San Jose is under consideration but not official as of yet.

Can't even skype anymore from my home, too unreliable

Actually it has, which is probably why they are avoiding it. There are many broadband choices in SF, some with pretty high speeds, some totally wireless.

My guess is that the city, being as regulatory happy as it is (and being specifically anti-Google thanks to the bus fiasco), is not interested in working with Google to make fiber happen.

You'll notice San Jose is on the list, and that actually includes a whole bunch of suburbs too (except notably Cupertino).

The whole bus thing was not remotely Google's fault.

In fact the buses weren't even really the problem. The protests were largely about rent increases caused by tech workers. The buses were just a symbol of the difference between tech workers and everyone else (and broad inequality).

Plus I struggle to side with the protesters when they do stuff like this[0]:

> Last week, a group of activists stalked a Google engineer at his East Bay house, urging the masses to “Fight evil. Join the revolution.” [..] The group that stalked Anthony Levandowski, an engineer at Google X, the company’s clandestine research laboratory, calls itself the Counterforce, after a Thomas Pynchon novel. About a dozen members, all dressed in black, gathered outside the Berkeley house where Mr. Levandowski lives with his partner and two young children.

> They unfurled a banner and handed out fliers detailing the engineer’s work on Google’s driverless car technology, Street View and Google Maps. The flier read: “Anthony Levandowski is building an unconscionable world of surveillance, control and automation. He is also your neighbor.”

That's pretty messed up. The dude was a random employee, with a family...

[0] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/01/technology/tech-rides-are-...

I think you misunderstood me. I didn't say the bus thing was Google's fault. I just said the city doesn't like them because of it.

AT&T recently announced some initial "Gigabit" deploys in the Chicagoland suburbs. I guess now we know why.

AT&T has been horrible in Illinois, with years and years of dragging their feet as well as reneging on commitments made to the State in return for e.g. tax breaks and rights of way.

Even with their announced Gigabit service, one really faces roughly twice the cost of Google Fiber if one chooses to opt out of AT&T's connection/data spying. And they impose a 1 TB / billing cycle (month) data cap. At the supposed 1 Gbps maximum speed, that's a bit less than 154 minutes of data -- less than 2.5 hours. For the entire month / billing cycle.

It's not difficult to imagine a 4K household easily exceeding this cap, or even a 1080p household with several users.

So... Go, Google Fiber. I don't hold out much hope they'll get out to me, but I'm glad that they may finally be holding incumbents' feet to the fire in a large urban market -- one that is considered AT&T's "home turf", to boot. (The erstwhile SBC headquarters were/are in the Chicago suburbs, and a lot of corporate management/leadership is or has been in the area.)

If I had to guess, I imagine they would start out around where their offices are in Venice and at least reach to where their Youtube studios are in Playa Vista. Both areas are big for startups along with all new development in Playa Vista.

Sounds like a good guess. Garcetti wants Silicon Beach to thrive in LA proper so the city can squeeze it for taxes.

It would be neat if they could somehow bring it along the border between LA and Santa Monica so they could play the two cities off each other: "We'll roll it out to the city that promises not to tax the crap out of it. Come on people, you want all those startups in _your_ town, don't you?"

Perhaps Google should also bring their fiber to Burbank (entertainment studio presence + related small service providers).

It might actually emanate out of One Wilshire.


Yeah actually that is a really good point. The place is integral for connectivity on the west coast.

Has Google announced San Diego officially yet? My friend said he noticed they were putting up hiring ads [1] there. But their San Diego page [2] doesn't make it sound quite official yet.

[1] https://www.google.com/about/careers/search#!t=jo&jid=137035...

[2] https://fiber.google.com/cities/sandiego/

Tries https://fiber.google.com/cities/houston on a lark

     500 Internal Server Error
     The server has either erred or is incapable of performing the requested operation.
I feel like Olya Povlotsky - "Dog bite me, Seth. I think finally I will die. The dog die, Seth. I was poison to that dog."


I'd assumed that cities like Chicago with relatively old/dense/complex infrastructure would pose a tremendous challenge to a project like Google Fiber. Happy to have assumed incorrectly, but it does seem a significant jump from mid-sized metros like Provo/Austin/Kansas City.

I lived in Chicago (proper, not the burbs) for years. The existing city cable provider, RCN, was one of the best I ever had the pleasure of using. It's definitely no Comcast like the suburbanites are stuck with.

The city is too old.. they don't even have all the schematics for all the gas lines and other pipes and wires laid over the centuries. Digging in Chicago is very dangerous and restricted. It will be interesting to learn how they deploy this if it happens.

As for likelihood this goes through, I can't see this ever happening. It's very corrupt, city employees don't want to work too hard, it's running on borrowed time.

Oh, I'm in Austin now. :) Can't say I care to return to the Windy City but this would certainly help pull in migrants other than native midwesterners.

How much would it cost for the US government to connect all US households to fiber? about 1 month of war?

Your first question is fair. Your second question brings politics into here for no reason.

I think it's entirely reasonable to discuss tech priorities and national infrastructure spending. Maybe 'war' has a particularly political dimension, but so does Social Security, welfare programs, national health care, manned space exploration, etc. Basically any large spending program is going to be a political, almost by definition.

I agree with your point but framing things as war instead of defense spending is leading and politically inclined.

I think most people distinguish between "baseline defense spending" and "elective war" in a general sense without either term feeling overtly political.

But if we were to take the set of [Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq] and try to decide in particular which are which, we would quickly find that to be political.

So in America, the political-ness of "war" tends to shift with the times. Right now, those times are 'interesting'.

sorry, I was trying to put it in perspective...

It's a valuable exercise. My favorite example is that for the same cost as the Iraq War, the USA could have bought Canada.

That's actually amusing, but of course far off the mark.

Iraq has a current price tag of $2 trillion (including benefits owed over time that were caused by the war).

Both wars together are now at around $4 trillion, spanning the last 14 years.

Canada would cost at least 20 times the Iraq war if you count land, financial + household + business assets and natural resources. Canadian households, including real estate, have $5 to $7 trillion in assets (depending on when you calculate due to the currency).

They have ~170 billion barrels of proven oil reserves (it's likely far more than that). Let's go with something reasonable like 150b that is sanely recoverable, but only 100b is economical or environmentally tolerable before the end of the fossil fuel age (but you'd still have to pay for most of it to buy Canada today). That's $4 trillion just in that oil calculation at today's low price. Canada probably has $8 to $10 trillion just in natural resources. Granted, I know it's ridiculous that Iraq was so expensive you could buy maybe 5% of everything in Canada (or 1/3 of all their household assets).

The US certainly could have purchased Greenland for $2 trillion (if such a thing were politically possible today, which it's not). With global warming, not a bad purchase.

I bet it would be very possible, since your essentially telling every citizen that you will pay the value of everything they own and much more to be a part of a different 1st world nation. Imagine someone telling you that they'd pay you $300,000 to consider your plot of land a part of the U.S. instead of Canada, and you still get to keep everything.

I wasn't including all of Canadians' refrigerators and riding lawn mowers. Just the real estate (n.b. "real estate" does not include the minerals).

Five years ago, I honestly thought everyone in major cities would be using encrypted gigabit mesh networks by now. Maybe in 2020.

There's some promising mesh projects. Stay strong!

Really hope this happens. Our current choice of Comcastholes or AT&T's Slow DSL is ridiculous for a city like Chicago.

I have RCN and I really enjoy it. I've heard their TV service is garbage but I haven't had any problems with RCN and I only pay $50/mo for 50/10 speeds.

Had RCN in Uptown, forced with Comcast in Logan. I really miss RCN. Couldn't beat the price/performance ratio.

Los Angeles will be an impressive feat. The ridiculous number of jurisdictions will generate an ungodly amount of red tape.

Well the announcements are kind of dishonest, they aren't doing whole cities. Select neighborhoods get the service and you actually be a street over and miss out. I remember the excitement when they announced Atlanta, until we saw the map.

Yes it is impractical to cover a "city" but it would be more honest to say "Coming to select areas of X"

exactly. my fear is that when Google says "Los Angeles" they really mean "Venice where a lot of our employees live and work", or at best "west of the 405"...

NoHo is probably a no go too

DTLA needs it badly too. Some of us are stuck with DSL :/

Look into that, my building on 7th & LA now offers TWC. It took a while though.

Wow I wasn't aware the situation was that dire.

Does anyone know what it takes to start up municipal fiber? There is a dark fiber line about 4 blocks from my house (in Berkeley), I feel that if I got enough neighbors to sign on to helping fund the initial costs of piping a connection to that, we could all get much better internet service -- but I don't know where one would start with that.

You would need to sign up with one or more of the major transit providers, such as Cogent, HE.net, Level 3, XO, or similar. (Or someone who resells such service.) You'd obtain an agreement to hook up that fiber to the Internet (such as via a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meet-me_room that the fiber leads to), and pay for the amount of transit you use (commonly billed either by the actual amount of traffic or by the 95th percentile of bandwidth usage). Then you'd need all the necessary equipment to get that connectivity to the various customers. And you'd need either a block of IP addresses to hand out or a NAT infrastructure.

(That leaves out all the non-connectivity-related issues you'd also have to handle, such as billing, cutting off service, collections, abuse reports, legal notices/investigations, support requests, etc.)

Only time + money. But more of both than you likely want to invest.

Disclosure: built my own ISP 13 years ago after a similar "how hard can it be??" moment.

Have you written up this experience anywhere? I'd love to read that.

No. I did give a talk locally some years ago but that's all. Like most of us I have a big stack of interesting things I could write about, if I didn't have roughly 2x as much work to do as there is time in the day already... One day!

I second this. I'd love to know how ISP companies back then were operated.

a bit easier with less scale; otherwise identically to today.

Just saw this which might be useful: https://www.reddit.com/r/networking/comments/2fl8ud/how_hard...

Lots of relevant discussion and links in that thread too. Good luck!

The biggest issue is who owns the delivery infrastructure. Pole real estate ain't free.

Cities are usually pretty pumped about this, as they can benefit significantly by getting more business and save money on network connectivity.

Google wants free access to poles and low/no cost leases on city property to install infrastructure.

If you want it to be municipal, then you start with your city council and/or planning office. They will let you know what is needed to proceed.

If you want it to be private, then you need to go find funding.

LOL force change with the pocketbook. yes internet is needed for modern use, use phone carrier for banking, bills, and email. disconnect cable, internet, Netflix, and all other streaming and cloud services, games and all the digital crap. Put a digital antenna on TV. Many businesses will quickly lose money and force change back to somewhat affordable rates. In the mean time back to reading, board games, hobbies, parks, exercise, etc.. they don't cost a penny. If everyone disconnected for a few months you would realize that there is life beyond these time wasting distractions. The best things in life are free anyway.

Congrats to the residents of Chicago and LA for having the local government leadership to work with Google.

I wish I could say the same for NYC where I live.

Despite the fact that Google owns one of the largest office buildings in the city where many engineers and other staff work, there is no Google fiber here.

Sadly, the mayor seems more focused attempting to slow the growth of Uber until the residents vociferously protested.

Now he is trying to ban the popular horse drawn carriages in Central Park -- or ban most of them. Sigh....

> popular horse drawn carriages

Popular with whom? The minimal revenue it brings from primarily tourists? Most of the backlash has come from NYC residents who deplore the conditions for the horses. The welfare of the horses should take precedence over the minimal revenue they bring.

According to a recent NYTimes article, most New Yorkers like the horse drawn carriages but the mayor made a commitment to a group that spent $1 million for ads against Ms. Quinn who was the mayor's leading competitor.

>The welfare of the horses should take precedence over the minimal revenue they bring.

Why? Animal welfare isn't important. If it were, we wouldn't commit mass slaughters just for the sake of making our meals tasty.

If they care so much about the horses, why isn't he banning police horses too?

Meh, from what I've read in this thread, the bandwidth situation is much worse in LA. At least you can get 300/20 here in NYC for under $100/month. Plus, while the competition is usually limited to a single provider (TWC or Verizon), there are some smaller ones like RCN.

Some people have good service with Verizon FiOS but many people do not have it and do not have access to good service, at least according to the NYTimes article about the situation.

I'm still wondering if Google Fiber is a foundation for Google's ambitions to resurrect their city-wide WiFi plans that stalled in SF years back. Ever since Google-Fi rolled out, I've been more convinced that Google doesn't actually need to wire every home with Fiber, just to put it in enough places and blanket the area with their own fine-tuned data network. Then, charge people for accounts to access it.

In the current fiber cities, does anyone know if the service made it out of the city limits into the burbs?

(Asking as someone right outside the Chicago city limits...)

In Austin, no, the map follows closely to the city limits.

They provide maps of the rollout too: https://fiber.google.com/cities/austin/fiberhoods/

To be fair, the city limits in Austin are pretty huge, already encompassing lots of what would qualify as the suburbs. Take, for example, the West Gate/South Manchaca/Stassney/William Cannon area (marked as Emerald Forest above), where there's already heavy build out going on.

Don't want to give you a false sense of optimism on this, but an article I recall reading last year speculated that Fiber penetration in Chicago could begin outside the city and work its way downtown, rather than the other way around.


I am in Austin city limits but outside the city center and we are nowhere close to getting Google fiber. I wouldn't get too excited by this, yet, especially if you're not in a densely populated part of town.

Heard about ATT gigabit coming to Sacramento yesterday (amongst many others). Finally seeing these lazy companies upgrade infrastructure.


The top comment is a (seemingly half or less than half-) joking comment about corruption in Chicago.

I have another, related thought:

These two cities are, without any reasonable dispute, centers of horrific police brutality.

Will Google Fiber drive down internet prices (and promote more public wifi) so as to cause a measurable increase in reporting and uploading of high-definition video of incidents?

I wonder how much of LA will be covered? it is a gigantic area. I do hope they go up to the Pasadena and San Marino areas...

My start-up is in LA and we're been talking about moving to SF. This will definitely factor in to our discussion.

Just curious: what specific factor(s) make you consider the move? I mean, in your view, what are the big draws to SF, things that LA either lacks or has only in low quantity/quality?

We[0] make SAAS for developers, so we expect a lot more of our customers to be in the bay. There’s also a deeper market for technical talent and VC capital. LA has a lot of lifestyle perks (beach, forests, desert, great weather, more daylight in the summer, more sqft of office/apartments per $). I imagine that the bars and restaurants in LA are better (but I don’t know).

So mostly, The Bay is where to ecosystem is.

[0] https://UseDopamine.com

Nice "Invalid security certificate" popup you have there?

You don't say? . . . That's going on the list.

Same here ;/ looks bad on chrome osx

I'm on Sonic 1 gigabit fiber in Sebastopol 50 miles north of San Francisco, one of the reasons we moved north from the city. Sonic are excellent and are building out in San Francisco in small areas.

I used to live in Santa Rosa (working for Agilent). Do you work remotely or have a job up there? The North Bay tech scene isn't as good as you think it would be.

consultant, wfh

As someone a few miles from Google HQ, this doesn't mean very much. Mountain View has been on the "potential" list for at least 2 years, with no movement whatsoever.

The less movement you have, the more you need fiber.

I won't mind if my Comcast Internet suddenly gets a free speed boost here! (But I won't sign myself up for an ISP that's primary business is tracking your data.

I can't understand why Google hasn't picked Alexandria, VA. It's a small, fairly dense, highly educated city with high average household income.

I bet the city government would welcome it. It's pretty much all Comcast right now, and the city is researching muni fiber.

Plus it's right outside Washington DC and plenty of government officials live there. The effect of competition on broadband quality and price would be highly visible to federal lawmakers.

edit: I'm curious why this is getting downvoted.

Has Google Fiber ever gone head to head with Fios areas? I'd imagine Fios can provide 1Gbps with minor upgrades.

I get 75/75 from Fios for 60 bucks in Crystal City.

Cox is rolling out gigabit for 100 dollars in Fairfax county.

No FiOS in Alexandria. Edit: or Cox.

Does the city own its electric company?

This was part of the selection in a lot of the cities, since fiber can be run alongside existing electric supply lines.

Possibly because we could all make arguments for why google could pick where we live to install fiber.

Excellent, I await an actual gigabit connection and support people that actually know what their doing.

Come capitalism, save us from the vicious tyranny of capitalism!

Baltimorean here. Enjoy it, bastards :D

good for them to do a major city. i'm still waiting for pdx.

Now Comcast is scared.

Whoo, Chicago.

Can we count San Diego as a large LA suburb? Please?

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