On April 17th Mayor John Curtis announced that Google Fiber is coming to Provo. One of the claims that was made that day is that Google Fiber would put Provo on the map. Although only time will tell if this is true, there are some definite ramifications.
First, Provo’s existing fiber infrastructure will be improved and widened to include all of Provo. In 2006, iProvo completed construction of its fiber-optic network. Well ahead of its time, iProvo’s network didn’t pan out the way they had planned because the technology was not there to support it.
Fast forward 7 years and in steps Google. Google has the technological and financial means to implement an effective fiber-optic network throughout the city. Boasting Gigabit speeds and new television/internet plans, Google is looking to completely overhaul the existing framework of Internet and Cable/Satellite Service Providers.
How Fast is Gigabit?
Second, internet will be lightning fast. Yes, Google claims “gigabit” speeds, but what does this actually mean? Gigabit simply refers to the amount of data that is flowing through the system to each house or business. For reference, most “high speed internet” providers today offer around 10-100 megabits (Mb, or megabits per second, Mbps). There are 1000 Mb in a gigabit (Gb, or gigabits per second, Gbps).
Both of these units are measured in the base unit bits. They are different from, but related to bytes. You’ve most likely heard of bytes being used to talk about how much storage your computer or iPod has. Examples could be like, a computer with a 500 Gigabyte (GB) hard drive, or a 16 GB iPod touch. A single byte is composed of 8 bits. A gigabit internet speed means you could download a high definition movie at Blu-ray quality in less than 3 minutes, whereas before it could take you upwards of 3-4 hours.
Gigabit Ethernet ports supporting these gigabit speeds on computers and internet routers have actually been around since 1999. But ISPs (Internet Service Providers) haven’t been able, or in some cases willing, to provide internet capable of using gigabit Ethernet to its fullest potential. Google is seeking to change that.
Provo’s Future in Tech
Third, what does it mean for Provo as a city? Provo is one of the fastest growing tech cities in the country. The entire Wasatch front in Utah is now being referred to as the “Silicon Slopes” because of the rapid growth in technologically focused industries in the area.
We can expect to see major companies joining those already along the Silicon Slopes such as Big Leap and Adobe. Provo may become a hub in the near future for the tech industry because of its location and revamped fiber-optic network. Existing local businesses will have a level of exposure that was not possible before and will have the opportunity to expand into larger markets.
The appeal of true gigabit internet to businesses, especially within the tech industry, is extremely high. The implementation of Google Fiber in Provo might prove to be the catalyst of an even larger scale tech boom on the Silicon Slopes.