Google Fiber picks MDU cherries in Orange County

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Google Fiber is figuring out how to play small ball and still get thousands of fiber to the home subscribers. In its latest blog post, Google tells how it’s expanding its fiber footprint – actually, making lots of tiny paw prints – in the southern California multi-dwelling unit market…

The Village is the latest apartment community in Orange County with access to our super fast Internet + TV. Additionally, we announced on Thursday that sign ups are now open for residents of The Park at Irvine Spectrum. More than 1,400 residents there will have Fiber service available to them in early 2018.

Since teaming up with Irvine Company last year, we’ve been hard at work to bring Fiber to a number of residential and commercial properties in Orange County. Today, thousands of people in Orange County can sign up for Google Fiber.

It’s not clear whether Orange County is an exception to Google’s no more television service decision. My guess is that Google lit up The Village before it announced that business decision last month.

Either way, going after apartment and condo dwellers in upscale Orange County should be a slam dunk for Google. It can work with building owners to get properties wired up, and the region has a considerable amount of fiber in the ground. It’s a standard, if not universal, construction practice to install fiber in new MDUs in southern California, and elsewhere. The cost of building a lateral connection from a nearby fiber route into a building is typically in the low tens of thousands of dollars range – $10,000 to $20,000 is common, $30,000 would be high, although not unheard of. Even if everything else combined to create a total bill of $100,000 to $200,000, in a 1,000 unit complex, Google’s out of pocket cost still comes out to something like one to two hundred dollars per home “passed”.

Don’t take those numbers to the bank – it’s completely back of the envelope guestimating – but it shows that there’s still some running room for the actual fiber version of Google Fiber (as opposed to its wireless fallbacks), while staying within the bounds of a shrinking capital budget for network expansion.