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AUSTIN, TX, February 10, 2014 — Competition is tightening in Austin’s Internet speed race and you could benefit. Texas company Grande Communications now plans to beat AT&T and Google to launching the ultra-fast 1 Gbps speeds in central Texas. Grande’s president, Matt Murphy says the new speeds will be available in select areas on February 18. Currently the fastest residential Internet speed is offered through AT&T’s U-verse with GigaPower.

That service boasts 300 Mbps — fast enough to download seven songs in a second. The company plans to boost the speed to 1 Gbps later this year. Google also reports that it will be installing fiber-optic cables to boxes called telecom cabinets in Austin during the upcoming months. The company hopes to start open sign ups this summer. When it came to upgrading to 1 Gbps speeds — fast enough to download an online HD move in less than 40 seconds by some calculations? Grande has stayed fairly quiet. “We wanted to make sure we had our plan fully thought through before we started marketing it,” said Murphy.

Grande plans to initially launch in west Austin neighborhoods. “It’s about a quarter of our market in Austin. And then depending on customer demand, which we think will be really strong, we’ll be looking to launch the rest of the market,” said Murphy. Baring any unforeseen changes, Grande will soon reclaim Austin’s title for the fastest Internet in the coming days. “Mostly the streaming video that I’ve seen has been a lot faster,” said Bryan Chaney, an AT&T U-Verse with GigaPower customer in Cedar Park. Chaney says he’s noticed the faster speeds. “You’re getting faster speeds. You’re getting a little bit lower bill. And you get a tablet, you know for the contract.

I think you can’t lose,” Chaney said. Still, he says the AT&T service isn’t perfect. “They’ve moved so fast trying to get everything out in the market that there’s a little bit of a gap install knowledge, in working maybe some of the kinks out of the software,” said Chaney. Murphy has a personal understanding of the company’s newest service. His house served as a testing ground. “I think my house was the only 1 Gb house in the entire town,” Murphy said. “We’ve been trying to stress it — absolutely can’t use all the bandwidth we’ve got and we’re trying.” Grande is also trying to beat out the competition when it comes to pricing. It’s offering the 1 Gb service for $64.99 per month. AT&T is advertising GigaPower for $70. Google’s services in Kansas City is also $70.

Grande is also touting that its service will have no contracts or bandwidth usage caps. Time Warner Cable is making changes as well. It now has 1,350 free TWC WiFi Hotspots in Austin for customers, with another 1,000 planned for this year. A spokesperson says customers can also be confident the company will be offering faster speeds in the future. Although three companies plan to launch the new services, all three plan limited launches. Neighborhoods to get 1 Gbps service Grande Power 1000 in parts of: • Belmont • Rosedale • Bryker Woods, • Pemberton Heights • Tarrytown • Oakmont Heights • Old Enfield AT&T U-Verse GigaPower in parts of: • Bryker Woods • Cherrywood • French Place • Mueller • Old Enfield • Tarrytown (Outside Austin) • Bastrop • Cedar Park • Dripping Springs • Jollyville • Lakeway • Leander • Pflugerville • Round Rock Planned 2014 expansion in parts of: • Zilker • Homestead • North Lamar • Other neighborhoods Google Will be based on neighborhood demand.

By Kevin Schwaller KXAN Austin News & Weather | Austin, TX, Round Rock, TX |