Google Wants to Build Muni Fiber; Tell Them to Build it Here

Google pretty much send the entire telecom world spinning by announcing today that it would like to build a 1Gbps fiber network to cover a footprint of between 50,000 and 500,000. More significantly, Google is requiring that the project be an open wholesale network with heavy municipal involvement. In fact, the Mountain View company has validated municipal open wholesale fiber optic networks as the preferred network of choice in the 21st Century, a fact I’m sure will not be lost on critics of such projects. (Yes, UTA, I’m telling you to grab a big, hot slice of humble pie and chow down.) Through March 26, Google will be accepting proposals and nominations from municipalities and interested residents for where they should build this network. This is your chance to get fiber in Utah for absolutely nothing courtesy of one of the largest tech companies in the world.

And really, we’re a perfect fit. Or, more precisely, UTOPIA is a perfect fit. It’s a municipal fiber project. It’s an open network. There’s already nine providers offering services right now. The backbone and NOC are done. The city has pole attachment rights and franchise agreements already in place. There’s middle-mile fiber all over the place. And, should the footprint be completed, it’s well within the size requirement that Google is looking for. UTOPIA is a shovel-ready project that could complete the build of the network within a year of Google getting involved while providing a significantly lower cost per home than many other communities. That’s a lot of bang for your buck.

Now this is the part where you come in. Google wants you, each of you, to nominate your community for this project. This is one of those cases where the prize is so great that nobody (and I mean nobody) who wants 1Gbps Internet access in their home can afford to not at least fire off a quick submission. Every one of you needs to do it. Your city needs to do it. Every one of your friends needs to do it, their friends need to do it, your family, your ward/congregation members, your neighbors, even that guy down the street that you don’t like because he doesn’t mow his lawn as often as he should. Google needs to hear from thousands of Utahns that this is still the place.

I’m asking each of you reading to right now make a personal commitment to tell at least 10 people you know to submit a nomination via Google’s fiber website and follow-up to make sure it gets done. Get each of them to commit to asking 10 more people to do the same. If all 175 FeedBurner subscribers do this, Google will have over 17,000 nominations from Utahns via this website alone. If all 1,000 unique visitors to this site do it between now and the deadline of March 26, they will have over 100,000 comments. Do you see the power of the snowball effect here?

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said during his visit to the Utah Technology Council last October that we don’t retain technology companies we start because we lack high-speed broadband. Let’s take him and his company up on their generous offer to show them what we’re made of. Get it done and get it done right now.

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16 Responses to Google Wants to Build Muni Fiber; Tell Them to Build it Here

  1. davez0r says:

    I couldn’t agree more. Hop to it everyone. Nominate your Utah city, and use ‘UTOPIA Supporters’ as your organization name. Getting Google onto the municipal fiber train can only help this effort.

  2. u235sentinel says:

    done. I’ve also emailed the west jordan city council and mayor to consider this. They were concerned about Utopia costing the city money (and now it looks like it’s never going to happen here).

    But if google builds it, dude, I’d move if West Jordan doesn’t get it 🙂

  3. jonathan says:

    One thing to think about is that Utopia has a model they are using. One of the main points in Google’s presentation is that they want to try out new ways of creating these networks. One thing that was mentioned as a selling point by a coworker would be to peer with EDU in the state. If the network could be built in such a way that traffic wouldn’t have to traverse to the ISP of choice then UEN or other peers. But move directly to said peers for local traffic and use the ISP of customers choice for the default route.

  4. Jesse says:

    I know it wasn’t like this in the past, but now UTOPIA’s ISPs have peering arrangements with each other. Traffic between UTOPIA users is supposed to now stay on-net. It would be nice if they could get peering arrangements with UEN, but UTOPIA has stated very clearly that all efforts to work with UEN have been either ignored or rebuffed.

    What UTOPIA is doing is very unique. There is no other full-fiber open access network in the US working on the scale that UTOPIA is or using the SAA to make a truly user-supported network. It may not be a new thing to us (or at least has lost some of its novelty), but it is a very new thing to the country as a whole.

  5. Tim Parcell says:

    I’ve created a facebook page you can easily share with your friends. Please invite them to join and participate!

  6. jonathan says:

    I guess my main thought is the tech Utopia is using is probably not what Google will use. But who knows only they know what they are wanting to try with this.

    There will be some unique challenges with a full GigE network like that. Someone here mentioned they would like to see what kind of CPE router they suggest to home owners that doesn’t cost $$$.

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  8. Troy Bowman says:

    I wrote to my city councilors, mayor, representatives, and submitted a nomination to Google.

    If this is going to be an open network (and thus has the same goals as Utopia), I wouldn’t mind Google just taking over Utopia, and that’s a major selling point to Google. Hey, Google, you’ve got a jumpstart over here. We’ve already made a big investment in your project. We’ve already laid lots of fiber for you. Come and make Utopia what it should have been.

  9. luminous says:

    Utopia has some BIG assets in place for what Google wants to do as well. Their Backbone goes from Idaho to Nevada? As they simply bought space in a line already laid(UHPP? I think), The Next thing is they already have the TV contracts negotiated for running Cable service over an IP network and that is a real pain in the rear from what I understand.

    With clear wins and customer demand as shown by a place as conservative as Brigham passing an SAA to get the service installed to them with people putting their money where their mouth is.

    So yea I am going send a tell to Google about Utopia, talk about win win. And from what I read it sounds like Google wants to partner with city on Muni projects and I think that is a great model for both party’s.

    I also have to wonder if this is coming up as Net neutrality is coming up against resistance in congress? But whatever the reason sounds good to me.

  10. luminous says:

    Ohh I should also mention that Utopia is past the significant problem of Legal challenges by the incumbent carrier. Another rather large feather in their cap.

  11. G Crum says:

    Please don’t assume everyone lives in city boundaries. I’m in unincorporated Salt Lake County, just 100 yards across 45th south from Murray (a Utopia member). Very frustrating. I told Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Carroon about this need and opportunity to bring fiber to more of Salt Lake County.

  12. Jesse says:

    Crum: I feel your pain. I live in White City township and made sure to write Mayor Corroon, my county council member, and all of the at-large members.

  13. Luke says:

    I hate to play devils advocate but I doubt UTOPIA or any existing network will get considered.

    Part of the idea so far is:
    “New deployment techniques: We’ll test new ways to build fiber networks, and to help inform and support deployments elsewhere, we’ll share key lessons learned with the world.”

    This to me indicates they probably want to start from scratch and get a really good idea of the entire process, challenges, roadblocks, and come up with new solutions.

    A network that is already built for the most part will not allow much of this to take place.

    Don’t get me wrong, I would love for Google to throw money at UTOPIA being as I’ve been trying to get it from the property line into my complex for years. I don’t think UTOPIA will allow for the environment they are looking for.

  14. UEN has two problems with opening up their network to UTOPIA, GOOGLE or anyone else. Their network was built with government money specifically the e rate program. They can not mix private business with public dollars or they would have to pay back millions of dollars back to USAC. 2. UTOPIA has to convince UEN that they are going to be around. UEN knows that Qwest, Emery, UBET, Frontier and Bee Hive Telephone companies are going to be around based on their history and balance sheets. While UTOPIA is a nice idea since it’s deep into the red UEN can not enter into multi-year agreements which are governed by the state and federal government (e rate program) with a company that could shut its doors tomorrow!

    And as for Google – it’s a nice idea however google is going to look for a densely populated area where they at least have a chance to recover their capital investment. There is no place in Utah which will have the density, ease of construction or more importantly connection to a PNAP that is cost effective. The closest PNAP is Palo Alto CA and it would be VERY expensive on a monthly basis to transport a 10 or 100 Gig Wave back to CA. They would have to buy Level 3 or AT&T or Verizon Business to make the fiber pay for itself!

  15. Jesse says:

    Frontier? Seriously? They’re the next Fairpoint, mark my words. I’d be shocked if they didn’t enter into bankruptcy in less than 5 years. I certainly hope UEN isn’t doing business with the likes of them.

    I wouldn’t count Utah out based on fiber routes. UTOPIA has a backbone that reaches into downtown Las Vegas. From there, it’s a hop, skip, and a jump to either Irvine or Phoenix. (And yes, UTOPIA is using DWDM to get more than a few 10G circuits over that link.) Since Google has already been building their own nationwide fiber network, I would bet that UTOPIA fiber is a lot closer to them than you think.

  16. jonathan says:


    I never intended Google to use UEN as transport. Just peer with so local traffic stays local instead of moving to WA or CA then back. This is not a new thing the providers Jesse talked about peering a Utopia used to peer locally at the U’s Eccles Broadcast Center under the name CommIX and the Utah Rep. Peering there was free as long as you paid for your own transport costs. When Utopia came along they all realized that they would all be sending circuits to to Utopia’s location so why pay for transport to two locations.

    On the PNAP note its highly likely Google’s current fiber backbone runs right through Ogden or SLC on its way from East to West. There are limited East West rails across the country for backbone fiber. There are only three points in the mid west where the majority of the backbone fiber runs. Depending on who they purchased their dark fiber from back in the day it probably was Level 3 fiber and thus probably runs right through Ogden on its way to Denver. They can just tap on to their existing network and not have to pay for transport.

    On another note with the NSA building their new data center here there is the possible need for new fiber routes into the area. Some are hoping to see a few new fiber routes lit up because of their need for bandwidth and desire for redundancy.

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