Insider View of Google Fiber: What a fiber provider wants

Google has started a new article series on their Google Fiber Blog called Behind the Scenes “designed to answer some frequently asked questions about how things work at Google Fiber.”

Yesterday’s post focused on what Google wants/needs from a community when it’s planning to bring in fiber. I thought it might be interesting for communities and policymakers…

Access to infrastructure – In order to build a network, we need to string fiber along utility poles or install it underground through protective tubes called conduit. It’s not feasible for each and every provider to build their own poles and conduit — after all, there’s only so much space on city streets, and it’d be an ugly waste of resources to force everyone to put up brand new poles alongside existing ones and dig up city streets unnecessarily. So it’s essential that cities ensure that new providers can use existing poles and conduit. We work with the city and, where applicable, the local electric utility and telephone company to figure out which poles and conduit we can use for Google Fiber, then we agree on a fair market price we can pay to lease that space.

Access to local infrastructure maps – Once we get permission to lease space on existing poles and in available conduit, we need to know where all of that infrastructure is physically located, so that we can plan where our fiber lines will go. It is critical that the city provide accurate maps about poles and conduit, plus info about existing water, gas, and electricity lines, so that we can know where we can safely build our fiber network.

Expedited construction permits – Google Fiber cities need to be ready for the large volume of permits (thousands!) that we’ll be submitting to them. We comply with each city’s permitting code, and we work closely with cities to figure out a way to expedite the permitting process to make sure that they’re comfortable and ready for the planned pace.

Clearly Google has their slant but I like that the post starts by saying that Google doesn’t expect “special incentives, exclusive privileges or tax breaks.” I think the certainty of knowing that they’ll have what they need to get the job done trumps any of those perks. I know in my own job I’d want the same. Building a website for someone at double the price isn’t worth it to me if I have to chase down the information I need. Chasing down information takes time, delays completion and it’s not fun. I have the think the providers feel the same way.

It’s something for policymakers and community leaders to consider. I think the uncertainty of USF changes has paralyzed the telecommunications providers more than any known changes could do. Something for the Minnesota policymakers to consider too – especially since the quest for broadband goals (10-20 Mbps downstream and 5-10 Mbps upstream by 2015) does not have funding attached. Streamlining processes is an effort that will help all providers.

This entry was posted in FTTH, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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