Thursday, November 21, 2013

Austin Chooses 100 Community Locations for Free Gigabit Fiber

KUT Radio brings us the list of free beneficiaries for that sweet, sweet Google Fiber! It numbers exactly 100 sites throughout the Austin Metro area and includes every public library (23), 13 out of 135 AISD schools, and other sites which frankly, aren't so public.

Alas, Dawson Neighborhood's Multi-Purpose Center and health clinic did not end up on the list. It's not clear how these sites were vetted, but it's probably way too late to propose any candidates now. The Austin City Council will vote to make the list official Thursday, Nov 21 (tomorrow).

Below is a Google mash-up map I made showing all of the sites involved. I used a great tool called BatchGeo. Click on the icons to find out who is at a given spot. Folks who like Google Earth can click HERE for a database file to use with it.

View 100 Sites in Austin Getting Free Google Fiber in a full screen map

When I made this map, I was hoping to reveal something of Google's deployment plan. We know that two parts of South Austin, along Congress and Lamar, are getting the fiber cable installed first. However, the map shows no particular pattern to support this. It's pretty random, though the highest concentration is Downtown and Central Austin. 

The closest site to Dawson Neighborhood is St. Edward's University. A University, even a nonprofit one, isn't exactly a public resource. You have to qualify to attend, and then you have to pay. A lot of the other sites seem like rather niche venues too. I'm certainly not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I foresee most of these sites being woefully underutilized.

It would make more sense to make sure every public school was connected, before installing at job centers who already have Internet service, ballet studios, sculpture gardens, theaters, for-profit universities, and the Travis Co. Appraisal District. I assume gigabit fiber will really help the Appraisal District staff cruise around with Google Earth, and that may help the City to recover some revenue, but that's neither innovative nor disruptive (in the sense of people creating new industries).