Earlier this week
suddenly and unexpectedly announced that it was planning to roll out Google Fiber service to Provo
, Utah. The city has an existing (though older, and somewhat unfinished) fiber-optic network that Google can apparently just retrofit to suit Google Fiber
, which is a much cheaper strategy than building a gigabit infrastructure from scratch.
According to the AP, the fiber
network initially cost the city $39 million, but it may sell it to Google for one dollar. The smallish city’s residents have been paying $5.35 per month per household in utility bills for about a decade to pay for the network, and the city will keep paying on its construction loan for the project for another 12 years.
The Google takeover sounds like a somewhat risky venture for Provo. On the one hand, Google is all but guaranteed to make Google fiber work in the city, and Provoians will get that sweet free Internet for 7 years deal, which would save everyone in town money. Further, there’s reportedly the potential for Google to build out a public free WiFi network, too.
There are also huge side benefits; the mere presence of Google Fiber will entice people to buy homes in town and encourage businesses to set up shop. It also puts Provo on the national radar in a sense, because everyone who discusses or thinks about Google Fiber will include Provo in the conversation--and let’s be honest, the last time most of us thought about Provo, Utah was, well, never.
On the other hand, if things don’t pan out with Google for some reason, the search giant has a clause where it can sell the network back to the city (also for the price tag of $1), so in a few years, Provo could be right back where it started--with an aging fiber optic network that it can’t afford to run or repair.
The Provo city council has to make a decision on Tuesday. We have an inkling that it will lean towards bringing in Google.