The main reason that only some San Franciscans will have the option of Google Fiber is that, unlike most markets where Fiber exists, the company is not planning to construct its own fiberoptic network in the city. Instead, it will use the 130 miles or so of existing “dark fiber” lines that the city has already used to connect schools, government buildings, and housing projects. Apartment buildings, condos, and others that are within reach of this existing infrastructure may be eligible to connect once Google officially launches.
This is a pared-down version of what Google is doing in Atlanta, where it is both building out a network of its own and using existing fiber to connect certain buildings.
And the San Francisco plan isn’t quite as encompassing as the recently announced plan in Huntsville, AL, where the city’s utility department is constructing a network that will then be leased to Google and any other broadband provider willing to pay for access.
As vague as Google’s San Francisco scheme is as the moment, it’s a nice sign to see the company and the city playing nice again. For several years in around the height of the housing bubble, the city, Google, and Earthlink were talking up a plan to bring free city-wide WiFi to San Francisco. That plan subsequently collapsed and it would be years before the city eventually brought free WiFi to parks and its Market St. corridor.