Although Google is yet to decide if it will set up its Fiber high-speed Internet service in Beaverton, one of 34 U.S. cities under consideration for Google Fiber, the city has an idea of what installation, cost and service locations might look like.
Google announced earlier this year that it is considering bringing Fiber to Oregon in Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, Hillsboro and Gresham. Google said it will decide which cities to proceed with by the end of the year, and service could begin in 2015.
In the meantime, according to Google Fiber spokesperson Jenna Wandres, Google has been working with cities to explore how Fiber might be installed. That includes permitting work and outlining existing infrastructure, such as water lines. There won't be any cost to the cities for Google Fiber installation, she said.
"There are just lots of things that we need to collaborate with the city on," Wandres said.
On June 17, Beaverton City Council signed off on a lease agreement for Google's "fiber huts," which will act as collection hubs for fiber optics running out into neighborhoods. The agreement was similar to agreements reached in Portland and Lake Oswego. It specifies 1,400 square feet at a cost of $3 a square foot, subject to a 3 percent annual increase.
According to Peter Arellano, Beaverton's public works director, an installation of Google Fiber would be similar to when Verizon installed a fiber optics system several years ago.
"For Beaverton, this is kind of unique because we already got the service" he said.
Some Google Fiber cables would hang from power poles, pending an agreement with Portland General Electric for their use, Arellano said. But a majority of the materials would need to be buried.
Typically workers would bore down two-and-a-half to four feet, bury a 2-inch- diameter plastic pipe and string fiber through it, Arellano said. The materials would be buried along streets and sidewalks, or even directly under the sidewalks. In that case, workers would remove a panel of concrete, install the pipe and fiber, and replace the panel, Arellano said.
As the city maintains 200 miles of street, Arellano said Google Fiber installation could involve up to about 300 miles of fiber.
If Google Fiber gets to the installation stage, it will manage construction work on its own, not city employees. The city would review the plans and be involved with permitting, Arellano said.
Arellano said the city hasn't determined an exact location for Google Fiber huts. If Google Fiber serves all Beaverton residents, Arellano said the city would need two of the 12-by-28-by-9-foot sheds. He said a few more fiber huts could also be placed in Beaverton, but would serve residents in neighboring cities.
According to Wandres, service is only being considered within city limits. The fiber huts would ideally be located out of the way, like in empty parking lots or by existing city facilities. The service will also require utility cabinets.
"We don't want (fiber huts) to be an eye-sore to the community," she said.
Google will offer service in areas of the city based on interest, Wandres said. Each "fiberhood" will have a goal for customer signups, based on the population density of the area, and Google will offer service for areas that meet the goal, she said.
To gauge interest Google will potentially share information with residents via email, mail and teams at community events, Wandres said.
As for cost, Wandres referenced pricing in Kansas City, where Google Fiber already operates, though prices could vary for each city. Google Fiber gigabit service in Kansas City is currently $70 a month, and Internet plus TV service is $120 a month.
Google also offers free basic broadband Internet services for at least seven years if customers pay a $300 installation fee, Wandres said.
Verizon's webpage states FiOS Internet for the first year costs about $45 a month with voice service, and TV starts at about $65 a month. Comcast has starter packages at about $40 a month in a first year for TV and 25 mbps Internet service.
To continue the process, Beaverton would need a franchise agreement with Google, which would outline further terms of service. The city of Portland approved a Google franchise agreement June 11, which included the free Internet service deal, outdoor wi-fi in some parts of the city and free service to unspecified non-profits.
Wandres said Google hasn't yet started the franchise process in Beaverton and is still reviewing Beaverton's checklist, which provided information about the community.
Arellano said Google would pay a franchise fee based on the percentage of the business it does in the city. Ultimately, having Google Fiber as another service provider would be positive, especially if the free broadband option is available, he said.
"Something like that for the economically underserved population would be huge," he said. "Anytime people have options, that's good."
©2014 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.)