Google is looking to install its fiber Internet service in several other U.S. metro areas.
Google is looking to install its fiber Internet service in several other U.S. metro areas.

Today Google named 34 cities as possible expansion locations for its Google Fiber Internet service. Seattle, however, has been left off the list.

google-fiberGoogle identified nine metro areas — including Portland, Ore. — that it will begin working with “to explore what it would take to bring them Google Fiber.” By the end of 2014, the search giant said it will have a better idea of where exactly it wants to provide the super-fast Internet.

“Between now and then, we’ll work closely with each city’s leaders on a joint planning process that will not only map out a Google Fiber network in detail, but also assess what unique local challenges we might face,” Google wrote today. “These are such big jobs that advance planning goes a long way toward helping us stick to schedules and minimize disruption for residents.”

We reached out to Google and asked about Seattle. A company spokesperson did not provide any specific reasons and shared this statement with us:

Building a brand fiber network takes many months of planning and construction, so we need to concentrate our efforts on just a few areas for now. These metro areas, spread all across the U.S., presumably will represent a wide variety of different construction environments and challenges, and we’re looking forward to learning from our experiences and partners in each area.

So, unfortunately for Seattleties, Seattle doesn’t appear to be a location on Google’s radar for implementation of Google Fiber, which is currently available in Kansas City, Provo, and soon in Austin.

As far as our brothers to the south in Portland, Mike Rogoway from The Oregonian notes that Google is apparently a fan of the city’s broadband plan.

Google says it liked the city’s broadband plan, crafted in 2011, which outlines an incremental approach to extending broadband reach throughout the city and including underserved populations. It’s notable that communities Google is considering – including Hillsboro, Beaverton and – have high concentrations of technical workers employed at Intel and other high-tech companies.

Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn actually tried convincing Google to bring its fiber Internet into his city back in 2010, but ultimately the Emerald City was not picked.

A few years later, McGinn made another effort to bring faster Internet to Seattle and take advantage of unused capacity in the city’s 500 miles of fiber-optic cabling. He signed a deal with a private company called Gigabit Squared and plans were in place to offer fiber Internet to 14 neighborhoods this year.

But Gigabit Squared failed to raise adequate funding and instead left the city with an unpaid bill of $52,250.

New Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.
New Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

Now Seattle is back to square one. We met with new Mayor Ed Murray in his City Hall office last week and after the Gigabit Squared debacle, he expressed interest in the possibility of a publicly-funded Internet utility — one that could mimic a model of how citizens access city light, for example.

However, he’s worried that the city couldn’t afford something on that scale. It’s a project that McGinn pegged at $600 or $700 million.

Still, bringing faster Internet to citizens is a priority for Murray.

“This is definitely something we need to do,” he said last week. “There’s an economic development component to this. There’s an education component to this. There’s a social justice component to this. The challenge is, how do we make it pay for itself?”

Seattle does have a franchise agreement with Comcast that expires January 20, 2016, and perhaps that’s something Google took note of. The city has already begun reviewing its relationship with Comcast and will soon reach out to the public for input.

“While the City does not have the power to prevent Comcast’s $45 billion purchase of Time Warner, we can take steps to make sure competition is stronger in Seattle,” Murray wrote in a blog post last week. “One step will be to evaluate our City’s relationship with Comcast.”

Comments

  • coolpimpdaddy69

    omg! the Uber guy was right! now all the tech companies know seattle hates innovation and we’ll never get anything done.

  • Allen

    I would love fiber, but not from Google.

  • imaginetheworldphotos

    I hear thru the grapevine that the reason Google doesn’t consider Seattle as a fiber site is that Microsoft is here. Can you elaborate on this?

    • symbolset

      Google is also here. If Microsoft wanted, they could build it though. They have the money. They make poor copies of everything else Google does, so why not this?

    • zeum

      Its pretty simple…

      “We wanted to find a location where we could build quickly and
      efficiently. Kansas City has great infrastructure. And Kansas has a
      great, business-friendly environment for us to deploy a service. The
      utility here has all kinds of conduit in it that avoids us having to
      tear the streets open and a bunch of other stuff that really
      differentiates it from other places in the country.”

      Seattle is the opposite of that. The infrastructure is from the 1800’s and the planning department is one of the worst in the nation (hello big bertha! Hello road diets, hello convention center that blocks highway expansion etc.etc.etc.etc.. My guess is all the weird red tape in Seattle will keep most companies from wanting to touch it with a 10 foot pole. For such a young progressive city it has one of th most backwards governments.

      Also Google says they wanted to “have an impact on econonmic development and to build relationships with local government and civic organizations.”

      Seattle is not a city in need of redev and rescuing.

      Finally…

      “[The] key thing was that
      city officials promised to get out of the media giant’s way”

      DEFINITELY not Seattle GOV’s strong suit.

      If Seattle is going to get rescued from Comcast its going to have to be Satya. MS wants to be a cloud so he could make Seattle a cloud!

  • Bill Schrier

    In my opinion, Seattle simply has too much process. Too many different bureaucracies to please, permits to get, community meetings to attend.
    In response to the comment above, I think Google would love to build a network in Microsoft’s back yard. For one thing, at least 7000 Microsofties live in Seattle and all of them would probably subscribe to super-fast Internet service, no matter who provided it. And don’t forget Google has sites in Kirkland and Seattle itself, and 1000+ employees.
    The “Seattle Way” is to jawbone stuff to death, and I don’t blame Google for looking elsewhere.

    • Viet Nguyen

      Hallelujah, Bill!

    • Robert

      After trying to convince the city (www.uptun.org), for four long years, to make it easier to deploy broadband equipment to open the landscape up to competition, I couldn’t agree more.

      Even after SDOT has finally changed its mind, it’s still an insanely-long process to get them to start changing their permitting rules. :( Frustrating doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    • Christopher Carr

      “Too many different bureaucracies to please, permits to get, community meetings to attend.”

      That’s not a bad description of Portland, actually.

      I would think that Seattle is perhaps too large for this stage, but they’re considering Atlanta. Maybe there are other infrastructure issues in Seattle — or maybe topography is a problem.

  • balls187

    Really, faster internet is a priority?

    Pander much?

    • symbolset

      Now it’s a shame that politicians even pay lip service to the interests and economic well being of their constituents? When did that start? I thought pretending to be influenced by the will of the people was a hallmark of western democracy.

  • Mary Ascott

    This had nothing to do with the Seattle process. Google did not want to alienate Microsoft by invading its home turf. I hope this will increase pressure on city leaders to do something. Too bad that previous leadership, including Mr. Schrier failed to act when the opportunity presented itself.

  • Guest

    Remember that Ed “Comcast” Murray, Seattle’s supposed mayor, accepted a large contribution from Comcast. As a result, we shouldn’t expect competitors for residential broadband until the voters remove him from office.

    • Guest

      Bingo.

  • symbolset

    Murray is the mayor of Comcast. He is going to fight progress every way he can. See how he throws out these “questions” barriers? He is never going to run out of questions.

    If he wanted to know the answers he need only look two counties east to Grant county. They have had gigabit fiber municipal broadband for 14 years.

  • LoopDataRail

    The Loop Data Rail in St. Louis has a lower cost and higher econmic development impace than Google Fiber. Take a look at http://loopdatarail.org to understand why.

  • Out For Justice

    So tired of monopolies (Comcast) blocking progress on fiber that we the people paid for (tax dollars)… …same with cellular, who says that Verizon owns the air waves?…

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