Google Fiber joins forces with municipal broadband network

Google Fiber said on Monday that it plans to bring its gigabit Internet service to Huntsville, Alabama. But instead of laying its own fiber, Google will offer service over a network that is being built by the city-owned Huntsville Utilities. Huntsville will lease space on the network to Google so it can offer Internet service. But it’s not an exclusive deal, so other Internet providers could offer broadband over the same fiber. Huntsville, a city of nearly 190,000 residents, has been planning the fiber build for more than a year.

City officials “see it as a low-risk investment, as compared to administering the gigabit Internet themselves, which would require a massive increase in personnel in an arena where they have limited expertise,” local news station WHNT reported today. Google Fiber should be available to the first Huntsville customers by the middle of 2017, but it could take a few years to extend service throughout the city, the report said.

Google Fiber offers service in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas; and Atlanta, Georgia. Huntsville is now one of six additional cities where Google says it will offer service. Google lists 11 other cities as “potential” Fiber locations, bringing the total of possible deployments to 21 metro areas.

“To date, we’ve built the majority of our Google Fiber networks from scratch,” Google said in its announcement. But in some cities, Google is taking advantage of existing infrastructure. “In Provo, Utah, our Google Fiber service is being delivered over a network we purchased from the city. In Atlanta, Georgia, we’re both constructing our own network and using existing fiber to provide Google Fiber to some apartment buildings. And now, due to the leadership of the Mayor [Tommy Battle] and Huntsville Utilities CEO Jay Stowe, we’ll be working with a muni-owned network to bring our high-speed service to Huntsville.”

Google noted that Huntsville has a high concentration of engineers “and ranks among the best places in the country for STEM workers.”

Google Fiber will be competing against ATT, which is planning to bring its GigaPower fiber Internet service to Huntsville.

Elsewhere in the country, government officials in Louisville, Kentucky this month voted to give Google Fiber easier access to utility poles, despite opposition from ATT and Time Warner Cable.

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