Google Fiber may be fire-hosing Internet data to just one city so far, but it keeps promising service to more.
By SCOTT CANON
The Kansas City Star
On Friday, Raytown officials announced that they have landed a tentative agreement to bring the TV and Internet service to their residents. A vote on the agreement could come in late May.
That news follows a vote Thursday night by the Shawnee City Council unanimously endorsing a deal to bring to that city Google’s much coveted, if lightly tested, plans to supercharge Internet speeds to the home.
The Internet giant’s entry into the market began in early 2011, when it chose Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., as the launch pad for an Internet service with speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, nearly 100 times as fast as conventional home broadband.
Late last fall, it began providing the service in a few pockets of Kansas City, Kan. It hopes to start some service on the Missouri side, near Crown Center, this month.
But recent months have seen a quick expansion of Google Fiber ambitions. After promising service to three small northern Johnson County suburbs last year, the company announced in March that it would also sell subscriptions in Olathe. On Thursday, it revealed a similar deal in Shawnee.
In April, Google Fiber was promised to come next year to Austin, Texas. And the company bought an existing fiber-optic network in Provo, Utah, to deliver its service.
Friday’s news marks just the second city in Missouri to make a deal for Google Fiber.
“From day one, when Google announced it was coming to the two Kansas Citys, we’ve been getting calls: ‘Can we get it? Can we get it?’” said Tom Cole, Raytown’s economic development administrator. “Well, now we’re going to get it.”
The Raytown deal could be a signal that even more cities in the market may be nearing a deal on Google Fiber. The company is regularly mum about its plans, and it routinely requires city officials to sign nondisclosure agreements about negotiations.
But the deals Google is cutting with municipalities seem to be asking for slightly less. Its earliest agreements insisted on the waiving of fees and the special expediting of permits. Not so with the agreement it made with Olathe. And with Shawnee, the company was able to get the city to waive the cost of fees for working in public rights of way in return for free Google Fiber service to some public buildings.
In Raytown, Google agreed to pay the nominal fees and still promised free connections to some public buildings in the city. That may signal to places such as Overland Park or Independence that reaching terms may be easier. And the succession of new cities piling up might be evidence that Google Fiber intends to eventually reach throughout the Kansas City market.
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