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Google seeking 20-year lease for Charlotte ‘network huts’

Google is seeking a 20-year agreement with the City of Charlotte to lease “network huts” for its Google Fiber network.
Google is seeking a 20-year agreement with the City of Charlotte to lease “network huts” for its Google Fiber network. Rick Rothacker

Technology giant Google is seeking a 20-year lease agreement with the City of Charlotte so it can install 21 “network huts” on city property as it builds a new high-speed Internet service in the city.

At Monday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Ron Carlee will ask for authorization to sign a pact with the Mountain View. Calif.-based company, according to the council agenda.

Last month, Google announced that Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta and Nashville were the next metro areas in line for its Google Fiber service, which promises Internet speeds 100 times faster than regular broadband. Google already has operations in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah.

Google hasn’t disclosed a construction start date for Charlotte, but the city has said it expects work to begin in the first half of this year.

At a meeting in April, city staff showed a map to council members of potential locations for Google’s huts, including cell tower sites, water and sewer properties and fire stations. The sites, which cover about 1,400 square feet, are key parts of the network infrastructure.

Since then, conversations with Google have significantly changed the proposed locations, according to the agenda. The city has identified 17 locations that meet Google requirements and is working to locate the remaining properties.

Google will pay $2 per square foot annually for the sites, according to the agenda. Each hut site is expected to produce about $56,000 over the 20-year agreement.

The pricing, based on a market study by city staff, is similar to what Google has paid in other cities, according to the agenda.

Google plans to install 6,000 miles of fiber-optic cable over the next two years, the agenda says. Under a 2007 city ordinance, utilities pay a fee that covers the city’s cost of permitting and inspecting this type of work.

The city currently has six full-time employees enforcing the ordinance, but the Google Fiber project will require four previously unfunded positions starting in fiscal year 2015, according to the agenda. Permanent and temporary workers will be used to cover work by Google and other telecommunications providers.

Budget projections in the agenda show revenue for right-of-way management exceeding expenses by about $400,000 over the next six fiscal years.

Rothacker: 704-358-5170; Twitter: @rickrothacker

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