Portland today moved one step closer to having lightning-fast Internet throughout the city.
The Portland City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved Google’s 10-year franchise agreement to install and operate a fiber Internet network throughout the Rose City.
The Oregonian’s Mike Rogoway has the details on what’s happening from here. Google still needs to assess factors like regulations and topography before officially committing to the Portland project, which includes service to five suburbs (Gresham, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Hillsboro). But today’s approval from city leaders is a big step forward.
The agreement between Google and the city, which includes a 5 percent franchise fee Google would pay quarterly, was first signed in April. Portland is one of 34 cities that Google announced in February as possible expansion areas for its fiber Internet project, which promises Internet speeds 100 times faster than typical broadband in addition to a cable TV service.
Currently, Google Fiber is only available to residents in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Google is now also testing a business service in Kansas City.
Meanwhile up in Seattle, Google has shown little to no interest in setting up a fiber network. 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.
Seattle was also left off Google’s list of 34 cities. A company spokesperson did not provide any specific reasons and shared this statement with us in February:
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.
Former City of Seattle CTO Bill Schrier penned this great piece on why he believes Google Fiber will never come to Seattle.
“The ‘Seattle Process’ and a balky bureaucracy at City Hall stand squarely in the way,” he wrote.
Seattleites came close to having fiber Internet available to residential homes last year, but a deal with Gigabit Squared fell through after the private company failed to raise adequate funding and instead left the city with an unpaid bill of $52,250.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has 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. He also seems focused on coming up with new strategies to increase the number of Internet providers and improve speed at the same time, as made evident in this blog post that noted how Seattle needs faster and more affordable Internet options.