Business Brief: Tech Coast Attendees React To Google Fiber Slowdown

Aug 22, 2016

The big story in the tech world last week was the decision by Google to postpone the expansion of its high-speed fiber internet network in cities across the country, which includes Jacksonville.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Google’s projects in San Jose, California, and Portland, Oregon, didn’t work out. It seems the cost of tearing up streets and laying fiber optic cable was a lot higher than Google bargained for. Another problem: Probable legal fights with competitors such as AT&T and Comcast over access to stringing the fiber optic cable on telephone poles.

So now Google will be testing out ways to install the high-speed internet networks using wireless connections instead of fiber optic cable.

So where does this leave Jacksonville, one of several Google Fiber cities chosen by the company last spring? The company is still in contact with city officials here, so the plans are not dead, but they are on hold for now.

At Jacksonville’s Tech Coast trade conference last week, the Google Fiber slowdown was on the top of many attendees’ minds.  There was some disappointment over the company’s decision, but no one believed it was going to hold back Jacksonville’s plans to build its technology industry.

The conference’s keynote speaker, business networking expert and author Kelly Hoey, said her message to Jacksonville is don’t sweat it.

“ We all want to be loved by the tech giants in Silicon Valley, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize your best opportunity and your best partner to move forward is the person sitting right next to you,” she told WJCT.

Hoey, who sees other cities that are working on building a technology industry, said her intitial impression of Jacksonville was positive.

“I was so impressed walking in at the Tech Coast Conference: the amount of diversity; the number of students who are in the room; men, women, young, old, every race; everybody is here,” she said.  “They’re looking for internships, they want to have jobs, they want to start companies here. That’s really exciting.”

And for those pining away for the super-fast internet service that Google Fiber promises, Comcast that offers a similar service, actually twice as fast, in Jacksonville right now. But it does cost about $300 per month plus start-up costs, versus the $70 monthly price tag for Google Fiber. But the fact remains, it is available in Jacksonville today, and it’s far from guaranteed Google Fiber ever will be. 

Listen to this story on Redux: