Google Inc. is preparing to offer its high-speed fiber-optic Internet service in four new metro areas, the latest step in a careful expansion of the service.
Google will announce launches of Google Fiber in Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Raleigh-Durham, N.C. and Nashville, Tenn. in coming days, according to two people familiar with the situation.
Google recently sent invitations to local news organizations in those four cities to attend events this week, without identifying the subject. The Atlanta and Nashville events are scheduled for Tuesday, Raleigh and Charlotte on Wednesday and Durham Thursday, according to local news reports.
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. Officials in the four areas didn't return requests for comment.
In February 2014, Google said it was considering building Fiber in nine new metro areas. The other cities are Salt Lake City, San Antonio, Phoenix, Portland, Ore. and San Jose, Calif. Google has told some officials in those cities that it hasn't ruled them out, and has yet to make a final decision.
David Vossbrink, a spokesman for the city of San Jose, said a Google Fiber official told him Monday that Google would be announcing expansion cities beginning Tuesday. “The message was that these announcements should not be considered the end of the road for the other areas,” Mr. Vossbrink said.
Google Fiber offers Internet connections at speeds of up to one gigabit per second—roughly 10 times as fast as the average U.S. Internet connection—in Kansas City, Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.
In Kansas City, where the service first launched in 2012, Google charges $80 a month for the gigabit service and $120 a month for Internet plus a cable-style TV package. A slower version is free after a one-time construction fee.
After announcing plans to enter a city, Google typically takes more than a year to build out its network to reach homes and businesses in the area. The company gauges demand by neighborhood, only building the network in places that express sufficient interest.
On Wall Street, the project is considered by many investors and analysts as an expensive experiment to try to persuade other broadband Internet providers to upgrade their own networks. But Google executives have said that it is a real business and the company has worked hard to build the service efficiently.
In the Portland area, Oregon tax-assessment rules are delaying a decision by Google to expand its Fiber service there, according to a person familiar with the situation. Oregon assesses utilities using a tax formula that values those companies’ property based on the value of their intangible assets, such as brand. It isn’t clear if this approach would apply to Google, and the state legislature is planning to tackle the issue in coming months. However, it has created uncertainty for the company, the person said.