It’s Google Fiber.
The mystery tenant that signed a lease for the third and fourth floors of the historic Rand Building, home to Geekdom, Rackspace’s Open Cloud Academy and a number of startups and small tech companies, is a mystery no longer. Google Fiber is planting its flag in downtown San Antonio in the heart of the growing East Houston Street tech district, a company spokesperson confirmed Tuesday.
(Read more: Tech Companies Populate Downtown San Antonio.)
The Rand Building’s third and fourth floors combined add up to more than 24,000 sq. ft., enough space to accommodate 100 or more workers. The arrival of Google Fiber will bring the 103-year-old Rand Building, purchased in 2013 by Weston Urban and refurbished afterwards, to capacity except for street level retail, which is expected to be announced soon.
Google Fiber is expected to hire nationally and locally for its San Antonio operations. A search of “Google Fiber jobs in San Antonio” on the company’s GoogleCareers page turned up a several high level job openings, including the top leadership position of City Manager.
Other posted openings include a Network Deployment and Operations (NDO) Program Manager Lead, which also requires substantial management experience and an engineering background, preferably with an understanding of fiber optic networks. Another job posting is for a Sales Strategy and Operations Manager, another management position that includes building and leading a sales force team.
All of the management positions suggest advanced degrees are essential or preferred.
The arrival of Google Fiber is expected to amplify the interest already building among a growing number of companies with workers who want to relocate some of their offices or operations from outlying areas to the center city. The initial move-in is expected to occur in several months. The Google Fiber service, which was launched in 2012, is currently available in four U.S. cities, according to its online map: Austin, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Provo, UT.
San Antonio is one of seven “Upcoming Fiber cities” on the Google Map where the company has confirmed expansion plans. The others are San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Huntsville, Ala., and Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham, NC. Eleven cities are on the “potential Fiber city” list: Portland, San Jose, Los Angeles, and Irvine, Calif., Phoenix, Oklahoma City, Chicago, Louisville, Jacksonville, and Tampa.
An Aug. 5, 2015 posting on the official Google Fiber blog praised San Antonio growing tech scene: “From starting Bexar BiblioTech, the first all-digital public library in the U.S., to being named a leading city in cybersecurity, San Antonio has developed a thriving tech landscape. Hundreds of startups have found their home in the Alamo City through collaborative workspaces and accelerators like Geekdom and Cafe Commerce. Moreover, San Antonio’s recent selection for President Obama’s Tech Hire and Connect Home initiatives will help create a pipeline of tech jobs and narrow the digital divide. With speeds up to 1,000 megabits per second (mbps), compared to the U.S. average of just 12 Mbps (Akamai, Q1 2015), Google Fiber will further fuel the city’s growth.”
Interested in finding out if and when Google Fiber is coming to your neighborhood or commercial district with one gigabyte Internet and TV service? Click here to sign up for the local Google Fiber updates. The company’s website describes a five-phase path to the day when Google Fiber will be activated and available.
Exploration is phase one, working with the City of San Antonio on permitting and infrastructure issues involving roads and underground utilities. Design is phase two with every mile of the system planned in advance, based on available space and location of existing utility poles and water, gas, and electricity lines. Construction, phase three, means locals will see Google Fiber workers on city streets many months before Google Fiber will be available. Thousands of miles of fiber optic cable — enough to reach from here to Canada — has to be laid to create the physical network. Sign Up, phrase four, involved Google Fiber measuring demand in what they call “fiberhoods,” meaning they will go first where demand is the highest. Want Google Fiber on your street? You’ll have to recruit everyone else in your “fiberhood” to compete against demand elsewhere. Installation, phase five, will be the final step. This is where technicians connect homes and businesses to the grid and turn on the service.
How long until the service is activated? Too early to tell. A Google spokesperson said each city’s geography and infrastructure is different and results in a different timeline.
The company’s website also outlines some of its community-based initiatives and partnerships that will be of interest to civic and community leaders in San Antonio. Those include bringing Google Fiber’s high speed service to public housing projects in partnership with ConnectHome, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Obama administration to accelerate connectivity in low-income households with school-age children. San Antonio is one of the ConnectHome cities on the HUD list.
Google Fiber’s Community Leaders Program connects tech-savvy college students with volunteer projects in underserved communities. The Digital Inclusion Fellowship is a partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network in eight Google Fiber cities to create and sustain digital literacy programs and to bring Internet service to some of the 60 million U.S. homes without an Internet connection.
This story was originally published on Tuesday, March 22.
Top image: Featured photo: A Google Fiber van parked in front of the San Antonio skyline. Courtesy of the Google Fiber Facebook page.