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The City Journals

Google Fiber discusses plans for possible service in Cottonwood Heights

May 29, 2022 12:47PM ● By Cassie Goff

By Cassie Goff | [email protected]

Continuing discussions about implementing fiber optic internet throughout the city, the Cottonwood Heights City Council met with members of the Google Fiber team May 3. Head of Government and Community Affairs Manager Jacob Brace and General Manager Ashley Church presented information about Google Fiber’s services, community engagement and infrastructure.

“Cottonwood Heights deserves a reliable fiber network that is best in class for internet service and meets today’s and tomorrow’s demands,” Brace said.

For residential households, Google Fiber offers multi-gig services. Each household is eligible to receive speeds up to 10 gigabytes per second and a terabyte of storage use.

Commercial agreements mirror residential ones. Google Fiber offers a Web Pass for multifamily and multitenant buildings to provide wireless access to everyone utilizing that area or building. 

“Google Fiber offers competitive and transparent prices and plans with no equipment costs,” said Church. She continued to explain how there are no installation fees, cancellation fees, data caps or throttled services.

Google Fiber’s development principles include lifetime, survivability, constructability and repairability. In practice, that means they anticipate future bandwidth needs as their customers’ needs continue to grow. Google Fiber makes sure to have infrastructure that is flexible and adaptable.

“We deliver an end product that is resilient and reliable for the customer,” Church said.

Church described Google Fiber’s ratings based on the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is a customer survey regarded as the industry standard. Customers described Google Fiber as the gold standard among ISPs, as they were ranked first in 22 metrics including speed, customer service, and reliability, among others.

Google Fiber’s customer support service is available during all hours of the day. “Ninety percent of calls are answered in 30 seconds or less,” Church said.

Brace explained how Google Fiber does not mine information from customers as they don’t have even the data centers to be able to do so.

“We do focus on digital equity, closing the digital divide and net neutrality,” Brace said. “We keep our internet open and accessible to the world.”

Google Fiber works with communities to build skills and access points. They develop connections with nonprofits, including schools and libraries, to offer gigabit connects for no cost. In addition, they work to offer services to provide adult digital literacy programs and no-cost school lunches.

Google Fiber boasts fast build-outs that do not require financial support from cities. They utilize a construction process called shallow-trenching in order to install their network. Shallow-trenching has been described as having a faster process and lower cost comparative to microtrenching. Construction stays above the granite level of the roads, which tends to lead to less utility strikes.

Construction crews are able to spend less time in the roads which means minimal disruption for neighborhoods. The shallow nature of the trenching allows for more timely repairs and maintenance as well.

“Traditional underground boring is slower, more disruptive on neighborhoods, more difficult for timely repairs and maintenance, and double the cost,” Church said.

Google Fiber’s team has already designed the network for Cottonwood Heights. However, they would need to work with the city to finish designing the neighborhoods with private easements and HOAs, as they are not part of public domain.

“We make sure to meet all city licensing requirements,” Church said.

A main hub, or connection point, would be required within the city in order to service all the residents. A church property within the city has already offered to be that hub, as they would enjoy the financial benefit and the land lease has been drafted.

“This gives us a head start as the land lease is secured for our network to feed in and out of Cottonwood Heights,” Church said.

Google Fiber is able to constantly survey their infrastructure and reseal city roads, as they initiated shallow-trenching six years ago with Salt Lake City.

“Utah is a highly connected and engaged community,” Brace said.

Google Fiber has license agreements with many entities throughout the greater valley region. Provo, Salt Lake City, Holladay and South Salt Lake have been fully completed. Millcreek is 85% complete. Taylorsville, Sandy, White City, North Salt Lake, Woods Cross, South Jordan, and Springville are currently in construction. West Jordan, Draper, West Bountiful, Kearns, and Riverton are currently being designed.

If Cottonwood Heights decided to allow Google Fiber within the city, Google Fiber’s team would drop door hangers on residential households explaining what to expect in the roads and neighborhoods. It would include information on installation, repair, maintenance, customer service and pricing.

Google Fiber is part of Alphabet Cooperation with offices in Salt Lake City and Provo.