The seven-member Provo, Utah, City Council has put its unanimous stamp of approval on a deal that transfers its iProvo fiber optic network to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Fiber for $1, paving the way for Google's third gigabit Internet community following the Kansas City "fiberhoods" and Austin, Texas.
Unlike the first two cities, in which Google had to start from scratch, Google Fiber goes into Provo with a leg up since it has an existing municipal network on which to layer its high-speed network. To get the network, Google agreed to pay $1 and provide basic 5 Mbps Internet connectivity to all Provo residents for seven years. Google also said it will upgrade the existing network so everyone in the city has access and will offer free gigabit service to 25 public institutions, including schools and recreation centers.
Provo taxpayers, already dinged by the expensive and financially troubled iProvo network, will end up paying off the $39 million bond the city issued to build the network and some other financial obligations revealed by Mayor John Curtis, a story in the Salt Lake City Tribune stated.
These financial obligations include $722,000 for equipment needed to continue using the gigabit service for government operations already on the network, including traffic lights and police and fire services. Google, in turn, will lease the network itself to the city for free for 15 years. The city is also obligated to pay a civil engineering firm $500,000 to determine where fiber optic cables are buried, since the construction company that installed them didn't keep records of where they put them, and $500,000 for an insurance policy to mitigate legal damages "should Provo's network not be presented to Google as promised," the newspaper story said.
Even with all of that, residents at a public hearing seemed excited about the prospects of becoming a Google Fiber city, the story said.
"There are serious questions about the costs," Royce Van Tassell, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, said. "That said, given all the situation, this is a quantum leap… it's probably the best we can do."
On the other side of that coin, incumbent ISP CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) wasn't nearly so pleased, and asked for a 30-day delay on the vote because the city had not provided ample time or opportunity for other competitors to bid on the network. That request was declined.
- the Salt Lake City Tribune carried this story
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