City leaders meet with Google Fiber representative

bbashioum@demo-mo.comJuly 11, 2013 

City leaders from northern Cass County are looking to form a relationship that may someday bring Google Fiber technology to the area.

Mayors from Belton, Raymore and Peculiar, along with their city administrators and economic development directors, met with Rachel Hack, Google’s Kansas City Community Manager, in an informative meeting July 9 about Google’s Internet broadband services.

“She was more or less just telling us what Google Fiber is all about, how Google is rolling it out, and what they’re looking to do,” Raymore Mayor Peter Kerckhoff said.

Google says its fiber network speed, at 1 gigabit per second, is 100 times faster than conventional broadband networks.

“What the meeting was not about was an announcement that Google is coming, but to begin that relationship with the cities in north Cass and Google,” Kerckhoff said. “The speed at which they are able to move information across the network is just amazing.”

The July 9 meeting was organized by the request of Cass County Economic Developer Melissa Freeman. Associate Commissioner Jimmy Odom also attended the meeting.

“It was a meeting with Rachel Hack to get an update on Google’s recent announcement throughout the Kansas City metro area,” Freeman said. “There was no discussion of Google Fiber in northern Cass County, it was more of an informational meeting for Google to explain what Google Fiber can mean to a community, and their status of the build in KCMO and KCK.”

Freeman said it would be up to the local cities to pursue their own relationships with Google Fiber to try to bring the service to their communities.

Kerckhoff said he thought the meeting went very well, and that he believes there is at least a local interest for the service.

“I think for Raymore, at the consumer level, more and more information is being pushed out through houses,” Kerckhoff said. “I would love to see Google come to Raymore because we’re a bedroom community right now and so many professional people in Raymore could probably work from home. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Presently Google Fiber provides residential service, but plans to expand to business plans in the future.

The meeting in Cass County was held after it was recently announced in late June that the Internet giant was moving into Lee’s Summit, joining other suburbs, along with Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City in signing service agreements with Google Fiber.

In relation to the county’s now-defunct rural broadband project, Presiding Commissioner Jeff Cox said Google did not respond to the the county’s solicitation of interest process earlier this year.

Google presently has agreements with Kansas City, Raytown, Grandview, Gladstone, Westwood, Shawnee and Olathe. Earlier this year, Google announced Fiber is also coming to Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah.

Google Fiber in Lee’s Summit will deploy the network in certain parts of the city known as “Fiberhoods” through registration rallies, which will determine where the network is built in the city. The network could include free Wi-Fi hot spots for downtown Lee’s Summit and at shopping centers, but that is not a certainty.

The Lee’s Summit City Council on June 20 unanimously passed an ordinance that gives Google access to city property, structures and conduit to facilitate building the network.

Google gets that access rent free.

In return, Google Fiber is to make “commercially reasonable” efforts to provide free broadband internet service to the city and other public facilities, like schools and libraries, for a limited time. It would be a maximum of 10 years from the date of the agreement.

When that period is over, the city and Google will negotiate rents at market rates. The city also will get a 5 percent franchise tax on the service.

Lee’s Summit Journal Reporter Russ Pulley contributed to this article.

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