No, Google Fiber Is Not Coming to Provo

Update: Yep, I totally missed this one, the one time out of dozens that it actually proves to be true. Glad the troll commenters are having a good time with it.

Provo (or, more specifically, Mayor John Curtis’ office) has been hyping up an “epic announcement” for weeks now. Somewhere in the speculation came a number of rumors that Google Fiber would be swooping in to either take over or supplant iProvo. Quite frankly, that’s an absolute load of malarkey. Nothing in the history of either Provo’s handling of its fiber optic assets or Google’s launch of Google Fiber cities would suggest anything like it.

For starters, we have to consider the way in which Google announces new fiber cities. Its history has been to send out a press release at least a few days out to generate buzz and send invitations to the tech and national press. This is not a company that announced these kinds of projects without a serious amount of fanfare.

Google also has a history of liking to roll its own solutions. One of the ways it got so big so fast was to create servers based on their own custom specs, not buying expensive off-the-self servers. Google Fiber is no different. They seem to relish the idea of starting from scratch and making something uniquely theirs. iProvo would require extensive upgrades to support 1Gbps connections and an entire head-end replacement to support modern MPEG-4 video.

There’s also the point of Google’s tacit support for municipal networks. Swooping in to take over a network would undermine their unspoken support for poking incumbent operators in the eye. Their goal has always been to shame ISPs into providing better service, even if that means throwing them under the bus in favor of municipal options. Taking over a network doesn’t match up with that at all.

The kicker, though, is Google’s terms for setting up shop. So far, Google has set it up so that they can walk away from their network if they decide it’s not for them. That probably sits just fine in Kansas City and Austin where they aren’t really on the hook for much. But Provo? They’ve spent half a decade trying to run away from iProvo. Any deal that doesn’t involve them washing their hands of the network would be anathema to every single action the city has undertaken under two different mayors and a lot of different council members.

Make no bones about it: Provo is not getting the bailout it so desperately desires. Hyping up these rumors does nothing to actually fix the situation, but it does distract from real looming problems like Veracity’s lease of the network expiring in two months. Instead of trying to find a white knight savior, it’s time for Provoans to demand that their elected officials address the elephant in the room instead of continuing to punt.

PS I’ve already told you to stop daydreaming and build the same kind of network that Google is. What are you waiting for?

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30 Responses to No, Google Fiber Is Not Coming to Provo

  1. Ritter says:

    I think you are mistaken, and we both shall see.

  2. Steve says:

    Just curious, Jesse,

    In your August, 2012 post about Google Fiber not coming to your city, you state that “[Google] selected Kansas City because there are major backbone fiber routes there (Sprint has its HQ in neighboring Overland Park, KS) and the city could provide expedited right-of-way.”

    But here you seem to claim that, BECAUSE Provo already has a fiber infrastructure in place, it’s evidence against such a development. Can you elaborate a little on this?

    • Jesse says:

      Fiber backbones are very different from assuming an existing FTTH infrastructure. While a backbone is quite malleable in terms of deployment, existing networks are largely set in stone.

      Google mostly looks for really good deals on deployment. They want easy right-of-way, no universal build-out requirements, and a guarantee that if they decide to pull the plug in a few years they’re not on the hook for anything.

      Provo’s actions since 2008 have been to try and run from the network and escape the cost of the bond. They got Broadweave to cover it for a while, then Veracity, then a somewhat unpopular utility fee. That simply doesn’t mesh with Google’s “we get to walk away if we feel like it” conditions.

      • DuckBUTTER says:

        I dont think it would be hard to do at all the technology is already here with the UEN network that stretches across the wasatch, It wouldnt be that hard for everything to be upgraded

  3. Jake Dayton says:

    Haha whooops spoke too soon!! Google fiber is in P-TOWN!!!

  4. Shane says:

    A friend of mine claims to have spotted Kevin Lo in Provo. We should know very soon. But I think you could be wrong, Jesse.

  5. Chris N says:

    Couldn’t have gotten that one more wrong.

  6. JeffC says:

    Well I’m glad Jesse was wrong :)

  7. Jon says:

    Sorry, what were you saying?

  8. Provo Utah says:

    Haha… your smugness was slapped across the face! Google Fiber was just announced for Provo!

  9. Landon says:

    Looks like someone was a tad bit wrong.

  10. Kim Ashby says:

    Looks like your rather arrogant statement about this being a bunch of “marlarkey” was completely incorrect.

    Would you like some salt and pepper with your crow?

  11. Daniel Pugmire says:

    Sometimes people shouldn’t make predictions until they are sure of the facts.

  12. Sansom says:

    OK, 1 day later (and one ‘epic’ announcement later). Would you like to restate this? lol…

  13. Theo says:

    I read this about 30 minutes before the announcement…So…what were you saying??

  14. Ritter says:

    Where is Jesse now? Come on man, you were so wrong but its all good. Everyone can be excited about this, its good news for all of us.

  15. Taylor says:

    Aha! Guess who’s happy that you were wrong? EVERYONE.

  16. Spencer says:

    You just lost all credibility

  17. ThinkingClearly says:

    Uhhhh, so what were all those reasons Google Fiber will never come to Provo again?? The only thing “epic” about all of this is Epic Failure

  18. Abraham says:

    So, should I help you take your shoe out of your mouth?? Google just announced that they are going to Provo

  19. rob says:

    Wow, peeps its like none of you have ever been wrong before. Lighten up! Just enjoy the fiber and lay of the hate.

  20. HappyCamper says:

    Haha…oh, how glorious this is.

  21. Nick says:

    Ouch… This one has to hurt, eh?

    It’s not that you were wrong… We’ve all been wrong at one time or another. It’s that you were so vehement in your wrongness.

    Still, we can all enjoy Provo getting “the bailout it so desperately desires.” Good things are ahead!

  22. adam says:

    hahahahahaha…. man don’t you look stupid now….

  23. Collin says:

    I think it’s funny that your arguments were mostly based on the “History” of Google Fiber… How long has is even been around? And this is based on the experience of TWO cities?? I’d understand if Google had done this already in 100 cities and then *suddenly* decided to change how they do things.. but seriously, Google Fiber is very new- and they can do things however they want.

  24. Pingback: I was wrong about Google Fiber, but this isn’t a golden deal for the city either - Free UTOPIA!

  25. Ben says:

    Not coming to Provo? I bet you feel stupid now.

  26. Murphy Randle says:

    He made a mistake! That happens to all of us. No need to be rude, everybody!

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