Provo to pay $1.7M for Google Fiber after unanimous approval


By Joey Ferguson

Matt Dunne, Google’s director of community affairs, speaks to the Provo City Council during a meeting Tuesday night. The Council voted unanimously to allow Google to purchase iProvo.

PROVO, Utah — Provo’s City Council approved Google Fiber buying the iProvo internet system and offering cheaper services and faster speeds.

The council voted unanimously during their Tuesday night meeting. With approval, Google will purchase and improve iProvo, the city’s already existing fiber infrastructure, and providing free, but limited, Internet connectivity to every home within its boundaries.

Provo will still have to pay a total of $1.7 million in additional costs for the deal, which will come from an already established network fund, said city mayor John Curtis.

The free Internet service will feature 5 Mbps speeds. It comes with a $30 activation fee, but there is no monthly charge for at least 7 years. Google will also offer paid plans with gigabit speeds.

“We are not here today by accident,” Matt Dunne, Google’s head of community affairs, said to the Provo City Council during the meeting. “We are delighted to be here.”

The city hopes to close the transaction with Google by “early summer,” Curtis said in a April 22 interview with Silicon Slopes.

“I know we all want it to go as quickly as possible,” Curtis said.

The mayor did not disclose a specific target date for installation and service.

The city needs to pay $500,000 to hire a civil engineering firm to identify where the fiber is, along with another $500,000 for an optional insurance policy in case anything happens to the network.

Another $722,000 is needed to keep the gigabit service already used by the city for thing like traffic lights and emergency services.

Local Internet service providers, like CenturyLink, are trying to delay Google’s coming.

CenturyLink sent a letter to the Provo City Council, asking to delay the deal with Google.

Brian Jones, deputy attorney for Provo, responded to the letter in Tuesday’s meeting, saying the City could incur costs if Google Fiber is delayed.

“It is my opinion that CenturyLink had ample opportunity to be involved in this deal,” Jones said during the meeting. “Far be it for this transaction to eliminate competition, it actually creates it.”

The infrastructure iProvo already had in place allowed Google to keep activation fees down, Dunne said in a video interview with Silicon Slopes.

“With the free service and the small activation fee, we have the potential to have Provo be the first city in the country, if not the world, where the expectation is that everyone will have access to the Internet,” Dunne said.

Google is also providing 25 public buildings, including schools and libraries, with a gigabit fiber connection for free. There will be an application process to determine the 25 recipients.

“We anticipate people will be able to utilize the gigbit internet connection by the end of the year,” Dunne said in a video interview.

An offering for small businesses is also in the works, though Google wouldn’t provide much detail.

Small businesses offerings, which will include static IP addresses, will be available at the end of the year when the first residents begin to receive service, Dunne said.

Mayor Curtis announced Google Fiber on April 17 at the Utah Valley Convention Center.

Curtis recently spoke with Silicon Slopes in a video interview about the future of Provo with Google Fiber.

“Economic development is kind of a given,” Curtis said. “This spurs so much creativity and energy. [Google Fiber] ignites a community.”

The contract between Provo and Google includes the possibility of wireless Internet throughout the city.

“My hope is that we are not only a fiber connected city but a Wi-Fi connected city,” Curtis said in an interview. “

Despite his hopes, Google has made no commitments to building out wireless Internet access, Curtis said. They simply left room in the contract, he said.

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