Irvine’s diverse economy, increasingly vibrant startup scene, affluent demographics, and residential mix all helped put Orange County’s third largest city on track for Google Inc.’s new Internet and TV service.
Irvine’s population of 250,000 or so doesn’t come close to two other cities under consideration for the Google Fiber program—Louisville and San Diego—but the local business landscape is exceptional in terms of size and range.
The cadre of big businesses that call Irvine home include the world’s largest technology products distributor, Ingram Micro Inc.; the world’s largest disk drive maker, Western Digital Corp., Broadcom Corp., the world’s eighth largest chipmaker; video game giant Blizzard Entertainment Inc.; Vizio Inc., the U.S. leader in smart TV sales; LA Fitness parent Fitness International LLC; fast-food behemoth Taco Bell; and medical device maker Edward Lifesciences Corp., among others.
The city’s base of big companies is complemented by midsize and smaller enterprises that combine to make the city a hub of business services and employment.
A source familiar with Google’s plans highlighted Irvine’s “strong commitment to creating an entrepreneurial culture” as a major attraction, specifically citing Startup Weekend. The event is a 54-hour pitching competition backed by Google to link Orange County designers, developers, entrepreneurs and industry experts. The source also cited Irvine’s developing tech incubators and co-working spaces such as EvoNexus, The Vine and FastStartStudio.
“From its tech incubators to its collaborative workspaces, Irvine is a city with a strong entrepreneurial culture that will only grow with access to superfast Internet,” a Google spokesperson told the Business Journal. “We’re looking forward to working alongside city leaders in the coming months to explore if we can bring Google Fiber to the city.”
The fiber-optic cabling system, which is made from fragile glass protected by several layers of kevlar-like encasing, produces Internet speeds of one gigabyte per second, or about 100 times faster than the U.S. average.
The system has been deployed in the metro areas of Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Charlotte; Kansas City; Nashville; Raleigh-Durham; Provo, Utah; Salt Lake City; and San Antonio. Other areas pegged for the service include Portland, Ore.; San Jose; and Phoenix.
These areas met the following criteria Google has outlined in deploying the fiber network:
• Strong partners at city hall. Google is looking for cities with local leaders excited about gigabit speeds and who want to put in the time and work to make it happen.
• Housing density. The target market is a midsize city with a good mix of single-family homes and multi-dwelling units.