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Google praises Charlotte’s Google Fiber application

BIZ CPT-GOOGLE-FIBERFEEDBACK 2 KC
Keith Myers - MCT
Installers for Google Fiber confer while working, March 19, 2013, in the Piper area of northwest Kansas City, Kansas, near Donahoo and Hutton Roads. (Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT)

As the deadline arrived Thursday for Charlotte and other cities to submit plans to become the next recipients of Google’s high-speed broadband service, the tech giant said it is pleased with the Queen City’s response.

Then again, Google seems pleased with what it has seen from all 34 cities where it hopes to expand its Google Fiber service, with internet access speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional broadband.

All the cities Google announced in February as possible next locations for the service are advancing to the next round of talks, said Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres.

All the cities have been working on a preliminary “to-do” list Google drew up to help prepare for possible construction of new fiber-optic networks.

Charlotte City Council last month gave the go-ahead for a formal application requesting Google bring its service to town. The city released a list of 31 sites for so-called “Fiber Huts,” which Google would build to help bring the service to homes.

Google said several city councils still need to approve draft agreements allowing placement of the huts on city land. The company also said in a blog post that it will need to work with the city or state on a video franchise agreement giving it permission to build a local network.

Google also wants to talk to cities about streamlining permitting processes. Company officials say that, for cities where conditions are deemed right, they hope to announce late this year that construction will proceed.

Google has said it hopes all the cities can work.

Thursday’s blog post said Google was impressed by “the enthusiasm and engagement of every one of these cities.” Wandres said Charlotte’s checklist process went smoothly.

“They asked really good questions and they were really organized as they pulled together their checklist,” she said. “It was clear they were incredibly invested in this process and in doing whatever it takes to bring Fiber to their residents.”

AT&T said last month that the Charlotte area is being considered for its super-fast “GigaPower” service, along with 20 other major metropolitan areas that include Chicago, Dallas and San Francisco.

Like Google Fiber, AT&T says its service offers speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second – or 1,000 megabits. Broadband Internet speeds typically range from 10 to 20 megabits per second.

“It doesn’t impact our plans,” Wandres said when asked about AT&T’s announcement. “We’ve said all along that more competition is a good thing.”

She said Google is seeking no financial incentives from local officials, and includes language in its agreements ensuring that whatever prices it pays for access to public rights of way or utility poles would also be available to other service providers.

Google is building out a fiber-optic network in Kansas City, has bought an existing one in Provo, Utah, and has begun planning one in Austin, Texas.

In Kansas City, subscribers are getting gigabit Internet for $70 per month, or gigabit Internet and cable TV for $120 a month. Google also offers basic broadband at today’s speeds for a one-time construction fee of $300 and no monthly fee.

Frazier: 704-358-5145; @Ericfraz on Twitter
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