Google Fiber teaches Overland Park who’s boss

07/06/2014 10:10 PM

07/06/2014 10:17 PM

Overland Park is used to being top dog in Johnson County and pretty much getting what it wants. It’s a fast-growing suburb with lots of well-paid residents.

But Google Fiber taught the area’s No. 1 suburb a lesson in recent months.

As I wrote in April, Google Fiber didn’t like being told by Overland Park officials last year that they weren’t going to immediately embrace the high-speed Internet provider.

So when the city later decided it was ready to approve a pact with Google Fiber, it surprised Overland Park’s politicians by saying it would take a pass on coming to the city until sometime in the future.

But now, as The Star reports, Overland Park has kissed and made up with Google Fiber. The city’s elected officials are expected Monday to approve a deal to eventually bring the service to the suburb.

So what’s changed in the pact sought by Google Fiber with the city?

Nothing of any substance.

Here’s what Overland Park City Manager Bill Ebel told Mayor Carl Gerlach and the City Council in a memo last Thursday:

“These two agreements ... are similar in concept and form to the agreements considered in September of 2013 and for which the governing board expressed its support ... for construction of a Google Fiber high speed broadband network inside the city and declaring the intent of the city to execute the necessary agreements.”

So basically Overland Park is getting what it could have gotten last year.

This better-late-than-never decision by Overland Park may not really affect when it actually gets the fiber.

Olathe is the largest Johnson County city so far with an agreement, but Johnson County residents are way behind Kansas City in getting connected to the high-speed service.

Eventually, Google Fiber could even jump Overland Park to the front of the line for big cities in Johnson County for becoming new customers.

That would make financial sense for the company, given the take-home income of the average Overland Park homeowner.

And looking out for its bottom line is something Google Fiber takes seriously, as its pending agreement with Johnson County’s biggest city shows.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Twitter @YaelTAbouhalkah.

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