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Google Fiber Is Finally Coming to Where All the Startups Are

San Francisco will make the fifth active city for Alphabet's high-speed Internet biz.

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Google Fiber is coming to its own backyard. Well, in moderation.

On Wednesday, the high-speed broadband and cable business, announced that it will start servicing “some” apartments, condos and affordable housing units in San Francisco, the urban hub north of its Silicon Valley headquarters. It’s not saying how many connections, when they’ll come or how much they’ll cost.

But it is definitely coming, unlike other cities where Fiber has said that it is “exploring” an arrival. That makes San Francisco among the largest metropolitan areas for Fiber, which has, so far, kept to smaller cities clamoring for its service (and where it can more quickly gain broadband market share).

It’s a symbolic entry — landing near Silicon Valley — as well as a commercial one: The city is full of tech companies and techies that have also clamored for super fast Internet.

Comcast* and AT&T, two of Fiber’s chief competitors, have both announced intentions to bring gigabit Internet to the city. While Fiber has primarily focused on residential lines, it could expand into enterprise services, something Comcast has made a push for.

Google is accelerating its enterprise business, which includes a team dedicated to getting startups on Google services. It’s not clear if that includes Fiber, which is housed under the Access subsidiary of Google’s Alphabet. (No comment from Fiber on enterprise stuff.)

While this is Fiber’s first go at connecting San Franciscans, Google had already tried this in the past, according to several former Googlers. The search giant had pushed the city to implement free Wi-Fi, and hatched some other harebrained access schemes, with little success.

The latest approach from Google underscores how Fiber is trying out various methods in each new market.

In its blog post, Fiber flicked at some of the hurdles San Francisco poses: Big hills, a jagged coastline and old neighborhoods probably very much opposed to digging up dirt for fiber optic networks. In the city, Fiber will provide service over current fiber cables, rather than building its own.** It’s doing the same thing in Atlanta, which was announced earlier this month. Fiber built the networks in Kansas City and Austin, two of its existing markets. (It bought the municipal network in Provo, Utah, its other active market.) Earlier this week, Fiber said it was working with Huntsville, Ala., to build out the city-owned fiber network.

Company executives have repeatedly told Wall Street that Fiber is a primary recipient of its overall capital spending, and will continue to be in 2016.

* Comcast, via its NBCUniversal unit, is a minority investor in Vox Media, which owns this site.

** Update: Turns out Fiber’s team may do some of the wiring and construction on the connections in the city, per a Fiber rep.

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