Google Fiber Targets Provo, Utah

Google Fiber’s next stop could soon be Provo, Utah, setting up a battle with incumbent broadband ISPs Comcast and CenturyLink.

Google Fiber announced Wednesday it has signed a deal to purchase iProvo, an existing fiber-based network owned by the city, with a promise to upgrade the network to 1 Gig, offer a subscription video service and complete network construction (for free) so every home on the existing iProvo network  can connect to Google Fiber’s services.

“Our agreement with Provo isn’t approved yet – it’s pending a vote by the City Council scheduled for next Tuesday, April 23,” Google Fiber Kevin Lo said in this blog post. “We intend to begin the network upgrades as soon as the closing conditions are satisfied and the deal is closed.” 

If Google Fiber gets the green light, it intends to launch services by late 2013. Google Fiber has also agreed to offer its free Internet service (5 Mbps downstream) to every home along the existing Provo network, so long as the customer springs for a $30 activation fee. Google Fiber has agreed to offer that tier for no monthly charge for at least seven years, and will also offer free Gigabit Internet service to 25 local public institutions such as schools, hospitals and libraries.

"This will help to realize the city’s original vision for widespread, affordable connectivity. In exchange for all of this, Google will take over operation of, and ownership of, the iProvo network, and we’ll exchange $1 to close the agreement," a spokeswoman noted in a email to Multichannel News.

Google Fiber’s proposal comes about a week after it announced plans to bring its 1 Gig network and IPTV service bundle to another tech-savvy city, Austin, Texas, starting in mid-2014  Google Fiber is already connecting homes in Kansas City, Mo.; and Kansas City, Kan.  Google Fiber said its proposed work in Provo will not affect its construction schedule in the Kansas Cities or its engineering work in Austin.

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, Provo, home to Brigham Young University, has a population of 115,321 (2011 estimates) and about 33,212 housing units (as of 2010). 

Provo began to build its own municipal fiber network in 2004, and started to seek a suitor in 2011.  It's presently operated on a wholesale basis by a company called Veracity Networks.

“Unfortunately, while we’ve had the desire, we haven’t had the technical know-how to operate a viable high-speed fiber optic network for Provo residents. So, as early as 18 months ago, I started looking for a private buyer for the iProvo network,” Provo Mayor John Curtis noted on his blog about the proposed agreement.