Washington County, Ore., Considered for Google Fiber Expansion

If plans continue, the county would oversee access to public rights-of-way in unincorporated areas and coordinate with local city governments on the network's design and construction.

by Mike Rogoway, The Oregonian / July 7, 2015

(TNS) — Google Fiber, already considering six Oregon cities for its hyperfast Internet service, is exploring the possibility of adding unincorporated Washington County to the list.

"Washington County was contacted late last month by representatives of Google Fiber to discuss the possibility of expanding their service into the urban unincorporated areas of Washington County," county spokesman Philip Bransford said in a written statement Thursday. "The meeting was preliminary in nature, meaning that no negotiations are underway and there is no schedule for future meetings at this time."

Google Fiber did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking comment.

If talks did proceed, Bransford said, the county would oversee access to public rights-of-way in unincorporated areas and coordinate with local city governments on the network's design and construction.

Google Fiber has been looking since February 2014 at the possibility of bringing its Internet service to Portland and five close-in suburbs: Gresham; Tigard; Lake Oswego; Beaverton; and Hillsboro. It already has a franchise agreement with Portland and has been quietly meeting with the other cities in recent weeks.

Google Fiber has not said whether it will begin serving the Portland area, though, nor when a decision will come. But the company has already won a number of concessions from state and local governments and circumstantial evidence is very strong that it's only a matter of time before Google Fiber makes its Portland plans official.

In other parts of the country Google is expanding in places where franchising authority is held by the state. Franchising authority in Oregon is held by local jurisdictions, which means Google must negotiate with each community it wants to serve.

That may be why Google Fiber left unincorporated Washington County off its possible expansion list initially. But unincorporated parts of the county have 200,000 residents, including some in well-heeled areas with high concentrations of technology workers.

©2015 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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