SALT LAKE CITY — The capital city’s newest technology hub will be located in one of its landmark shopping and entertainment locales.
Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski announced Thursday plans for a Google Fiber store to be located at Trolley Square. She made the announcement just outside of the store’s proposed entrance on the east side of the mall at 700 East and 600 South.
“I commend Google for reaching out directly to community members, nonprofit leaders, the school district, local leaders and others to find ways to bridge the digital divide that exists in our city,” she said. “Trolley Square, a place famous for its history of connecting our community in the past, will be part of how we connect our community moving forward.”
Besides retail space in which customers can experience Google Fiber firsthand and learn more about other retail services, the store will also include space that could be utilized for other educational purposes, said Devin Baer, associate city manager for Google Fiber in Utah.
“We like to think of this space as 'the community’s living room,'” he said. “We’ll use it as a venue for nonprofits to host events here. We (will) also have Google-hosted events on digital inclusion.”
Those programs will be education oriented, such as teaching school-age girls how to code, he noted.
“We want to open up the storefront and put our product here and see how the community wants to use it,” Baer said. Upon its official opening in the coming months, a calendar will be set up where groups can sign up for usage, he said.
Among the local nonprofit partners already signed on are Spy Hop Productions, a digital media education center for youth in downtown Salt Lake City; Neighborhood House, a provider of day care services for adults and children; and University Neighborhood Partners, an organization focused on community engagement with the long-term goal of increasing access to higher education for west-side residents.
“Having a space like this (and) having Google be a partner in (career exploration and development) is definitely going to elevate our community and the young people that we are serving,” said Spy Hop executive director Kasandra VerBrugghen. “Having (Google) Fiber is going to level the playing field for our community, our young people and creates equity and bridges the digital divide.”
Last March, Salt Lake City announced that it was among a number of U.S. cities to strike a deal with Google Fiber to bring high-speed Internet service to city residents.
In April 2013, Provo announced it would become just the third city in the nation at the time to have Google Fiber. The company uses a fiber-optic network to provide fast and powerful Internet, as well as TV service.
Salt Lake City is one of seven cities nationwide in the process of installing Google Fiber. Currently four cities — Provo; Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Kansas City, Missouri — have Google Fiber networks up and running. Two years ago, Provo joined Austin and Kansas City as the first cities to have the ultrahigh speed Internet service.
The ongoing process of design and construction is expected to take many more months at least, Baer said. The first availability for Google Fiber service to Salt Lake customers could happen by later this year, with broad access planned for the end of next year.
Residents can monitor progress at fiber.google.com/about.