FOX 13 | GOOGLE FIBER | AUGUST 24, 2016
ARTICLE: by Ben Winslow
POSTED 9:00 AM, AUGUST 24, 2016, BY BEN WINSLOW, UPDATED AT 07:57AM, AUGUST 25, 2016
SALT LAKE CITY -- After years of waiting, Google Fiber has officially launched in Utah's capital city.
The Internet behemoth flipped the switch on its super high-speed network in Salt Lake City, providing service in the city center and opening the doors at its Trolley Square offices for people to sign up.
While promising to expand and provide Internet service to the entire city, Google Fiber will have service available immediately in the downtown area and Central City neighborhood -- from 300 West to 1300 East and South Temple to 800 South. Access to the Fiber network depends on whether buildings gave Google permission to wire them.
The rest of the city will come soon, said Google spokeswoman Angie Welling.
"It's a matter of months, not years," she told FOX 13. "We're working as quickly as we can to make sure that sign-ups are open everywhere."
Google said it would offer Internet service from 100 to 1,000 megabits (one Gigabit) per second, in addition to phone and TV service. Prices ranged from $50 a month for 100 Mbps to $140 a month for 1,000 Mbps and a TV package. Businesses were being offered Google Fiber packages ranging from 100 Mbps a $70 a month to 1,000 Mbps at $250 a month.
Google Fiber said that as it expands throughout Salt Lake City, it would offer a $15 per month broadband program to bridge "digitally divided" neighborhoods -- those who have access to computers and Internet, and those who do not.
Wayne Owen, who lives in Salt Lake City's west side, said it can't come quickly enough.
"My current Internet provider, I'm not real happy with them," he said. "I'll be pleased to tell them their services are no longer needed."
Since announcing Salt Lake City was a contender for its high-speed Internet service in 2014, Google Fiber has been eagerly anticipated by city leaders and consumers alike. Google Fiber will compete with other networks and Internet Service Providers, including Utah-based XMission, CenturyLink and Xfinity.
CenturyLink said it has already spent more money on its network and offers gigabit service.
"CenturyLink has proudly met the communication needs of Utahans for more than 100 years. We employ more than 1,500 Utah residents who are connecting fellow Utahans to the power of the digital world," the company said in a statement. "In the last five years, CenturyLink has invested approximately $500 million in its Utah network, expanding our fiber network and bringing faster Internet speeds to our customers. Since 2015, CenturyLink has offered gigabit service to residential and business customers in select locations in Utah."
XMission founder Pete Ashdown welcomed Google Fiber to the city.
"XMission welcomes Google Fiber to help advance Internet accessibility to Salt Lake City residents. Although this is great news for select residents of Salt Lake City, XMission believes fiber is essential infrastructure to be managed by a neutral government and be available to any data provider," he wrote in an email to FOX 13. "Leaving this in the hands of one company gives less choice to the consumer and potential for monopoly."
Welling said Google Fiber built its infrastructure from scratch, without taking any incentives from the city.
Salt Lake City Councilman Stan Penfold said he believed Google Fiber's arrival would be good for consumers.
"I think the competition is already very aware of what's going on," he said. "They've already improved their customer service, they've already improved their speeds. So it helps everybody."
The project did not cost taxpayers anything to build, but the Salt Lake City Council gave Google permission to piggyback on existing city infrastructure. Google has refused to disclose how much it paid to build its network. FOX 13 has learned the company spent about $300,000 in building permits alone at Salt Lake City Hall.
The Downtown Alliance, which markets downtown Salt Lake City, said Google Fiber will be a big lure for tech companies.
"This is a huge selling point when you're talking to companies about why you should choose Salt Lake City over anywhere else in the country," said the group's Nick Como.
Salt Lake City is the second city in Utah to get Google Fiber. Provo struck a deal with Google in April 2013 when the city council approved the sale of Provo’s existing network, iProvo, to Google for $1 a short time later. Welling said that as of right now, Google has no plans to expand in Utah beyond Salt Lake City and Provo.