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Salt Lake City – Google Fiber is coming to Salt Lake City. Maybe. Eventually.
City officials and Google representatives announced Wednesday that Salt Lake is one of nine metro areas under consideration to be a site of Google’s super-fast fiber optic network, which delivers internet connectivity to homes at speeds up to 100 times faster than the basic broadband speeds now available throughout most of the country.
The announcement marks the beginning of a six- to nine-month process to determine whether the city is a good fit for fiber. This will include assessing the existing infrastructure, hearing residents’ input and determining what obstacles might get in the way of construction, said Michael Slinger, director of business operations for Google Fiber.
If the company and the city decide to go forward at the end of the assessment period, Google will begin the engineering, design and construction process, which will take about a year. If all goes perfectly, the first Salt Lake customers will begin receiving Fiber service in early 2016, Slinger said. The nine metro areas under consideration aren’t in competition with one another, and all of them could end up with the service.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker said his office will work to ensure that Fiber comes to the city. “What this will mean to our residents is enormous,” he said.
Announcing cities that are under consideration for Fiber before a decision has been made marks a change in Google’s process. Previously, the company has announced cities where they plan to begin doing business and set to work building the infrastructure.
“We’ve learned that we can actually streamline our build-out and delivery of Fiber to citizens of a city if we do a lot of this upfront work jointly working with the city,” Slinger said. “Hopefully we’ll be in a situation where we can leverage the city infrastructure and we can work more closely with the city for a longer lead time in planning.”
A checklist describing the steps of the evaluation process will be posted publicly, allowing residents to track the progress, Slinger said. Meanwhile, Becker’s office will also seek public input on the process.
Last year, Provo became one of the first cities to receive Google Fiber when the company bought the iProvo network, which was already mostly in place. Because Google was able to use existing fiber optic infrastructure, customers in Provo are already receiving service.