Google Fiber Gets Portland’s OK, But Remains Noncommittal

The city council of Portland, Oregon has agreed to let Google enter the city with Fiber. Subject to certain fees and conditions, the city would give Google a franchise agreement that would enable the always-expanding tech giant to install Fiber and WiFi networks around the city.

Since Portland has a sizable population with more than 600,000 residents, the franchise agreement would not obligate Google to service all areas of the city. Other agreements between Google and cities like Kansas City have included similar terms, since providing Fiber for an entire city can be cost prohibitive.

The Agreement

Even though Portland is showing interest in Fiber, it is not handing Google the keys to the city. If Google is to set up shop in Portland to compete against Comcast and other Internet service providers, it will have to meet certain conditions. The company will have to provide free Internet service to some nonprofits, and it must also offer a 5 Mbps Internet service to customers for a $300 fee installation fee.

To expand WiFi access in the area, the city council agreement would require Google to install at least three free WiFi networks around Portland. This requirement makes sense because of the growing need for affordable or free WiFi. Additionally, Google has already shown interest in setting up wireless networks in public areas, so this could be an opportunity to test those networks.

Google may have a leg-up on Comcast in Portland since it would not be subject to a three percent PEG (Public Education Government) fee. Rather than generating revenue from the Fiber service through the flat three percent fee, the city council says that Google would pay a five percent franchise fee on video revenues.

It is clear that Portland would like to see Fiber become available to its residents. Despite a handful of...

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