(TNS) -- Google Fiber, which had been preparing to formally announce plans to serve Portland by fall, will instead postpone the start of its buildout for at least several months. That's according to contractors that had hoped to help build the company's fiber network in the Portland area and others familiar with Google's plans.
Google has been contemplating Portland service since early 2014. In a statement, the company acknowledged the city must continue to wait but didn't provide a firm timeline.
"We're continuing to explore the possibility of bringing Google Fiber to Portland and other potential cities," Google wrote. "This means deploying the latest technologies in alignment with our product roadmap, while understanding local requirements and challenges, which takes time."
Last month Google Fiber acquired a San Francisco internet service provider called Webpass, which uses point-to-point wireless service to reach office buildings, apartments and condominiums in five cities. In other cities, Google is leasing fiber from private companies or a local utility instead of building its own network.
Google could be exploring how to integrate those options, or other emerging technologies, into its high-speed internet service.
Portland has estimated it would cost Google Fiber $300 million to build a wired network serving the city. With costs likely comparable in other markets, Google may be seeking less expensive alternatives.
Google has always been coy about its Portland plans, but it has hired local personnel, won land-use approval to start building its network, and had begun talking with Portland neighborhood associations about the impacts of construction.
Just this month, Portland approved a new franchise agreement for Google Fiber that extended the company's authorization to operate in Portland until 2026.
Contractors and local officials had felt an announcement from Google Fiber on its Portland plan was imminent. The surprise delay represents a big disappointment to Portland's internet surfers, who had nurtured hopes for more than two years that Google would bring its superfast service to the region.
It's also a setback for state legislators and local officials, who had approved tax breaks and other concessions in hopes of luring Google to the region. Portland had been counting on revenue from a newly established fee on Google Fiber's revenue to fund the city's new "Digital Equity Action Plan" designed to improve internet access in parts of the community that still don't have it.
In its other markets, Google Fiber offers superfast internet connections of 1 gigabit per second – 40 times faster than the federal broadband standard – for $70 a month. It offers other services, too, including slower speeds, TV and phone service.
In the 30 months since Google Fiber first expressed interest in serving the Portland area, the region's other major internet service providers have all boosted their speeds. CenturyLink began a broad fiber rollout in Portland, Frontier offered gigabit connections in parts of Lake Oswego, and Comcast has bumped up speeds repeatedly.
None of the companies identified Google Fiber as a trigger for their speed increases, but other markets Google serves or plans to serve have also enjoyed improved speeds from rivals.
-- Oregonian/OregonLive reporter Lizzy Acker contributed to this report.
©2016 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Distributed byTribune News Service.