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Friday, June 13, 2014

Portland Approves Google Fiber Franchise Agreement

Posted by on Fri, Jun 13, 2014 at 5:04 PM reports:

Portland commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to approve Google Fiber's franchise agreement with the city, the biggest milestone to date in the company's plan to bring hyperfast Internet service to the city.

"It is such a good fit with who we are and who we will be in this city," said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, joining his four colleagues on the city council in enthusiastically endorsing the project.

Google plans to decide by the end of the year whether to proceed with service in Portland and five suburbs (Gresham, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Beaverton and Hillsboro.) The company is evaluating local regulations, access to utility poles and regional topography to determine whether the network is technically and financially feasible.

Oh yeah, Portland? We passed a $15 per hour minimum wage bump!

Seriously though: get Google Fiber going here (former chief technology officer Bill Schrier says it's never happening), Mayor Murray and City Council members, or commit to developing superfast municipal broadband, and you all will be more popular than Molly Moon's ice cream on a hot sunny day.


Comments (16) RSS

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I've been looking at rural properties around Washington State. One of my requirements is some kind of Internet connectivity, so I take the properties and enter then into the National Broadband Map website.

There were quite a few remote areas the ISP was listed as "PUD" and it offered the highest speeds I'd seen anywhere, 1Gbps, Google-speed.

The electrical utilities have been given the ok under some Rural Broadband act to run optical along the powerlines, and -- since there is no reason to step it down like the commercial ISPs do -- they give users the full bandwidth, 1 Gpbs.

For example, in Chelan:

Chelan County PUD has built a fiber-optic network to most of Chelan County where many residents have access to the fastest connection anywhere in the world including:

High-speed internet -- Speeds up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps)
Telephone service
Basic and HDTV television…

This is a hoot. A public utility, funded by a government program, allows someone at the end of a dirt road to have 21st century speeds, probably for not much money, while a modern city like Seattle, from what I've heard, isn't really wired up at all!
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 13, 2014 at 5:28 PM · Report this
Wait, they get Google, you want Gub'ment?
Posted by I'll take Google thank you on June 13, 2014 at 5:30 PM · Report this
A hundred years ago we made the right decision with Seattle City Light. Lets do it again. A generation from now we will be glad we did. DSL and cable that do 6 megs on a good day will be seen the same way we see dial up now.
Posted by wl on June 13, 2014 at 6:23 PM · Report this
New Orleans is kinda fucked up in a lot of ways, but we pay $99 a month for 150MB download with Cox cable. It's incredibly fast.

Not Chattanooga's $100 for a gig, but at a certain point, the bottleneck is on the other end.
Posted by Mike Friedman on June 13, 2014 at 6:57 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 5
The dream of the 90's is alive in Portland!
Posted by Urgutha Forka on June 13, 2014 at 7:11 PM · Report this

Thanks for the link to that map.
Very helpful.
Posted by caution&daring on June 13, 2014 at 8:09 PM · Report this
In Schrier's piece that Ansel referenced, he compared Seattle (no Google ISP) to Kansas City (Google ISP), complaining of "the Seattle process." Google said they wanted to use the public right-of-way for their private business, so Kansas City signed a contract the next day. Trhose lucky Kansas Citians have, as the Portlanders soon will have, Google an advertising and data aggregation company, monitoring their every digital communication.

Seattle, too, could have this, if we took the following four actions, remedying what Bill apparently sees as problems:

1) Reduce the opportunity for public input before a signing contract
2) Let private businesses use public utility poles for free
3) Allow installation of new private equipment in public right-of-way without requiring approval even by nearby property owners
4) Let Google pick which neighborhoods to serve with their publicly-subsidized business, and which to leave with nothing but CenturyLink's and Comcast's shitty service.

If "the Seattle process" is the alternative to a back room deal to collectivize costs and privatize profits, let's have more. I grew up in Kansas City. I'll take the Seattle process over a quick handout to private business at public expense any day.
Posted by Phil M on June 13, 2014 at 8:29 PM · Report this
I'll take Google over gub'ment internet any day. Fuck your Seattle process with a 15 foot barbed pole.
Posted by Planted sideways up yours on June 13, 2014 at 8:56 PM · Report this
@8: We don't have as much control over our municipal government as we should, but we have zero control over Google.
Posted by Phil M on June 13, 2014 at 9:00 PM · Report this
@8 @9

Both of you are sorta correct though I'd give the edge to Phil in substance and definitely in style.
Posted by caution&daring on June 13, 2014 at 9:06 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 11
Phil dear, Seattleites have an amazing amount of control over municipal government - if they choose to exercise it. For instance, City Light's rates and strategic plan are both developed via citizen panels and through numerous public meetings and comment periods. Usually, the only people to show up are those with an agenda and/or axe to grind, and the Stand Up America trio.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on June 13, 2014 at 11:56 PM · Report this
@11: That sounds accurate.

I'm all for publicly-operated high-speed Internet access in Seattle. I think we're more likely to have the opportunity to pay a neutral party to shovel our bits without regard to their content, and without shipping information about our network activity off to the U.S. government, if we do it ourselves than if we pay Google.

In order to protect our privacy, we'll need to be extremely diligent while devising and enforcing policies for a municipal ISP, but we don't even have such options available to us with private ISPs. I want my neighbors guiding operations of my ISP, not the directors and shareholders of some mega-corporation.

An ISP constrained by the Public Records Act and by the Open Public Meetings Act? Sign me up.
Posted by Phil M on June 14, 2014 at 8:40 AM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 13
There are those who will tell you that cities can't enter into business lines like wifi, which may be true, but apparently PUD's are allowed. So make City Light a PUD. Problem solved.
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on June 14, 2014 at 10:26 AM · Report this
Bill Schrier here, author of the infamous "Why Google Fiber will never come to Seattle."
A couple of clarifications.
1. PUDs. Many Public Utility Districts (PUDs) in Washington State have built fiber-to-the-premise networks. But, under state law, no one can buy broadband directly from the PUD. So people living in PUD-served areas need to purchase from a third party broadband provider which actually provides the modem, customer service, etc. See, for example, the list of broadband service providers in the Chelan PUD territory here:…
2. Cable speed in New Orleans. (Mike Friedman's comment above.) The danged cable companies advertise 150 megabits per second downloads but what they don't tell you is that speed is shared among 100 to 200 to 500 homes in your neighborhood. Can be quite slow on Sunday night when everyone is streaming NetFlix.
3. I would actually prefer a municipal fiber broadband network. This parallels what we've done with roads, i.e. the city/county/state pay for the roads and anyone can drive on them or run businesses across them. But every time the City of Seattle (and other cities) have studied this, construction of a City-owned network never pencils out. In other words the cost of stringing fiber to each of 320,000 premises in Seattle far outweighs what the City could charge homes and businesses for the service. So a municipal broadband utility requires some sort of subsidy, e.g. property tax levy, in order to break even. This makes sense (to me) in that gigabit broadband increases the value of every property. Also we use this mechanism to subsidize parks, schools, libraries and roads. And gee, if we can pay $2.9 billion for a 520 bridge or $4 billion for a tunnel downtown, couldn't we pay to subsidize a $700 million fiber build out?
But the bottom line is we need more competition for the cable companies, whether it be from CenturyLink, Google or Joe Schmoe's Broadband Company. And to get that we need fewer regulations and less process. Perhaps Kansas City went way too far, e.g. free space in City buildings and no-cost permits, but we are far in excess on the other end of the regulatory scale.
Posted by Bill Schrier on June 14, 2014 at 5:14 PM · Report this
Agreed with Bill Schrier. Portland signed Google Fiber because it was willing to make concessions to get a competitive provider for the city. Seattle's infinite circle-jerking public process delivers no results.
Posted by Akbar on June 14, 2014 at 5:25 PM · Report this
Catalina Vel-DuRay 16
Bill, why not just change the law? (Although it very well could be that the PUD's don't want to get that involved. But then again, who cares what the PUD's want? That's the beauty of public utilities)

And if you tell me that there's too many lobbyists and vested interests, be prepared for me to get all JD Ross on you ;-)
Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay on June 14, 2014 at 5:35 PM · Report this

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