Lee’s Summit city approves agreement with Google Fiber

rpulley@lsjournal.comJune 24, 2013 

  • More information According to information provided to the City Council, Google will offer three packages. • Gigabit+TV: up to one gigabit upload and download speed, full channel TV lineup, Nexus 7 tablet, 1 TV box, storage box, network box, 1 terabyte of storage across Gmail, Drive and G+Photos for $120 a month, plus taxes and fees, on a two-year contract. • Gigabit: up to one gigabit upload and download, network box included, 1 terabyte of storage across Gmail, Drive and G+Photos, at $70 per month, plus taxes and fees on a 1-year contract. • Free Internet: up to 5 megabits per second download, 1 megabits per second upload speed, free service guaranteed for at least 7 years, included network box. There is a $300 construction fee (one payment or 12 months of $25 payments) plus taxes and fees.

Google Fiber is coming to Lee’s Summit.

However, the Internet giant isn’t saying exactly when it will build its ultra-fast fiber network here.

Rachel Hack, Google’s Kansas City Community Manager, said there is no timeline for building the network in expansion cities.

Lee’s Summit has joined other suburbs, along with Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City in signing service agreements with Google Fiber. Google presently has agreements with Kansas City, Raytown, Grandview, Gladstone, Westwood, Shawnee and Olathe.

Hack said the company intends to roll out the network faster than it did in Kansas City, Kan. after it chose that community to get the first fiber network in March 2011.

Google Fiber will deploy the network in certain parts of the Lee’s Summit known as “Fiberhoods” through registration rallies, which will determine where the network is built in the city. Google says its fiber network speed, at 1 gigabit per second, is 100 times faster than conventional broadband networks

Presently Google Fiber provides residential service, but plans to expand to business plans, she said.

The network, as envisioned could include free Wi-Fi hot spots for downtown Lee’s Summit and at shopping centers, but that is not a certainty.

Mayor Randy Rhoads he is excited about the uses Lee’s Summit’s “creative class” will find for the network. He said it’s the city’s job to provide the tools.

“It’s up to our citizens to figure out how to use it,” Rhoads said at the meeting.

In an interview, Rhoads said that in August 2012 he sent a letter to Google asking them to bring the service to Lee’s Summit, when he’d heard they were expanding beyond Kansas City, Kan. and Kansas City. He said he knew Google was talking to a Kansas-side community.

“I don’t know if my letter had anything to do with it,” Rhoads said. “At the time I thought, if they don’t hear from us, they might not know we’re interested.” By March Google contacted the city to begin negotiations, after officials accepted a non-disclosure agreement while the parties were talking.

“We’re in tall cotton here, to be included like Austin, nationwide” Rhoads said. “There’s a lot of potential, though I can’t begin to tell you what it is.”

The City Council on June 20 unanimously passed an ordinance that gives Google access to city property, structures and conduit to facilitate building the network. Councilmember Kathy Hofmann was absent.

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.

Deputy City Attorney John Mautino said specific areas for service aren’t known at this time because Google has to finish engineering which will in part determine those spots.

The city also will get a 5 percent franchise tax on the service.

Broadband connectivity is one of the needs highlighted in a recent survey of business leaders completed by the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council.

Jim Devine, president of the Lee’s Summit Economic Development Council, said it would initially be good for creative people working at home-based businesses.

Lee’s Summit has a high concentration of people employed in computer- and math-based fields or medical professions, several thousands in occupations increasingly reliant on computer-based technology.

Many of them commute to jobs outside the city, but as faster broadband infrastructure becomes available here, there will be opportunity to attract firms to employ them in Lee’s Summit, Devine said.

“It is great news for Lee’s Summit and the business community that needs to be competitive globally,” Devine said. “Broadband Internet service provided by companies like Google is increasingly important for our industries to provide infrastructure, so they can go to the next level of manufacturing and creativity.”

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