(Oregonian (Portland, OR) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 01--Google Fiber, looking to expand to as many as 34 more cities across the country, says all are well on their way to completing a checklist the company issued with a deadline of midnight tonight.
Google is considering expanding its high-speed Internet service to nine metro areas across the U.S., including Portland and five suburbs (Gresham, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Hillsboro.) In February, the company asked the cities to respond to a checklist of information about their local utility setup, topography and regulations.
"We've been impressed by the enthusiasm and engagement of every one of these cities, and all of them have, for the most part, completed their checklists," Google Fiber's Jill Szuchmacher wrote in a blog post on the company's website this morning.
Google says there are still "loose ends" to run down, including some significant ones around placing large "fiber huts" on public property to help run the network. Portland estimates the company will want about 15 in the city. Google wants a licensing agreement for the huts as soon as possible.
Additionally, Google wants to put 2x2x4-foot utility cabinets on parking strips in neighborhoods in each city. Some cities, including Gresham, already allow some cabinets. Portland does not, though, and city officials are considering rules changes to allow them.
The issue has been contentious in some cities, including San Francisco, where neighbors don't want to see streetscapes disrupted. In Portland there's thus far been no public outcry.
Google says it will spend the rest of the year seeking franchise agreements with each cities (Portland is in the lead on this -- the city council votes on a deal for Google on May 7) and working out agreements to use other companies' utility poles for its fiber.
Once it has that done, Google says it will draw up "blueprints" for local networks and make final decisions.
But "don't be surprised (or get too excited!)," the company writes, "if you run into a Google Fiber crew doing work around your town, or see postings for local jobs on our Fiber team; before we formally decide to bring Fiber to your city, we may do some exploratory work and recruiting."
The company reiterated that it expects to make a decision by the end of the year on which cities will get Google Fiber.
Portland posted its response to Google's checklist late Tuesday or early Wednesday, more than a day ahead of schedule. A couple highlights:
On the utility cabinet issue, Portland told Google that "cabinets are allowed," but that restrictions may exist on siting, visual mitigation and the size of the cabinets.
And TriMet, not formally a part of the city of Portland, made a submission to Google anyway.
"TriMet believes that its existing conduit runs and associated facilities could serve as a plug and play environment for a Google Fiber ring (or backbone) and hut sites," the transit agency wrote.
TriMet said it has 80 miles of fiber running under MAX light rail lines, plus park-and-ride sites that could be suitable for Google's fiber huts.
-- Mike Rogoway; twitter: @rogoway; 503-294-7699
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