Salt Lake City on short list for Google Fiber

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 19 2014 5:51 p.m. MST

Updated: Wednesday, Feb. 19 2014 5:51 p.m. MST

Michael Slinger, director of business operations for Google Fiber, speaks during a press event in Salt Lake City, Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, announcing that the city is one of nine areas being considered for Google Fiber.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s capital city could be among the next metropolitan areas to enter the Google Fiber era, joining Provo and two others that have the service.

Mayor Ralph Becker announced Wednesday that Salt Lake City is one of nine cities across the country under consideration for installation of Google Fiber, which uses a fiber-optic network that provides Web access at speeds that are up to 100 times faster than basic broadband, as well as TV service.

The company will work with Salt Lake City leaders during the next six to nine months to map out a Google Fiber network in detail and to assess any unique local challenges, said Michael Slinger, Google Fiber director of business operations.

“That includes looking at if there is existing conduit that we can use,” he said. “Obviously we want to avoid digging up roads and make this as easy and seamless as possible.”

Also under consideration with Salt Lake City are Atlanta; Nashville, Tenn.; Phoenix; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh and Durham, N.C.; San Antonio; and San Jose, Calif.

"There is no question that abundant, high-speed broadband access will make our community stronger, and I am excited to announce this partnership and begin to lay the foundations of economic development for the future of Salt Lake City,” Becker said.

If approved, Salt Lake City would join Utah County’s largest city as a Google Fiber-equipped locale. In April 2013, Provo announced that it would become the third city in the nation to have Google Fiber, along with Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas.

“We are going to look at the ability to get on existing utility poles and look at the ability of the permitting office to deal with a large number of permits that we’ll have to produce,” Slinger said.

Cities under consideration will complete a checklist of items that will help them prepare for a fiber construction project. The three general categories include providing detailed, accurate maps of existing infrastructure such as utility poles, conduit, water, gas and electricity lines; ensuring Google can access and put its fiber on existing poles or conduit to avoid digging up streets unnecessarily or putting up duplicate poles; and review permitting processes to make sure the city can handle as much as 100 times the usual number of permit requests.

No matter the outcome, cities that go through this process will take a big step forward in making their cities ready for the fiber-optic networks, Google stated.

Provo signed an agreement giving Google access to its existing fiber-optic network called iProvo, which was operated by Veracity. Google Fiber is currently available to most homes along the iProvo network, which is the majority of Provo residences.

“We think there is tremendous vitality here and a lot of entrepreneurialism,” Slinger said of Salt Lake City. “We know that there is a lot of demand and a lot of fantastic people here who can really build what will be the Internet of the 21st century.”

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