It was billed as an epic announcement in Provo. Mayor John Curtis announced Wednesday an agreement to make Provo the third US city to have access to Google Fiber’s ultra-high-speed Gigabit Internet, after Kansas City and Austin.
Google Fiber General Manager Kevin Lo stood on the roof of the Utah Valley Convention Center with the Wasatch mountains behind him, buffeted by strong winds. He promised all Provo residents would have access to free basic Internet, with the option to upgrade to speeds 100 times faster than the average American can access.
“Once connected, Provo will be one of the first cities in the world where access to broadband will flow like water or electricity,” Lo said.
It’s a vision that Provo tried to pursue in 2004 when they built iProvo, a fiber optic network. But the city’s system ran into funding troubles and is currently connected to only 9,000 of 35,000 homes. Google Fiber plans to buy the existing fiber optic network, and upgrade to handle more connections at higher speeds. Provo Mayor John Curtis says that Google will be able to do what others could not.
“The beautiful part about today is Provo City has had this dream for a decade. Finally we have matched the dream with the resources,” Curtis said.
It will cost Google at least $18 million to build out the system, according to Val Hale, president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Google also plans to offer free gigabit Internet service to 25 local public institutions like schools, hospitals and libraries.
Pending approval of the deal by the Provo City Council, Google officials estimate that the new network could be operating by the end of this year.