Google talks fiber for LA, but so far no unicorn

9 December 2015 by Steve Blum
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More possibles in California, but so far no glass.

Los Angeles is now on Google’s list of “potential fiber cities”. LA, along with Chicago, are still a long way from officially joining the club, though. All Google will really say about the prospects of building in either city is

As we kick off our usual checklist process, we’ll work closely with city leaders to collect detailed information about each metro area. From Venice Beach to Wrigley Field, we’ll study the different factors that would affect construction—like city infrastructure and topography—and use that information to help us prepare to build a local fiber network.

While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to bring Fiber to Chicago and L.A., this is a big step for these cities and their leaders. Planning for a project of this size is a huge undertaking, but we’ll be sure to keep residents updated along the way.

Google’s announcement isn’t a direct response to the unicorn to the home request for proposal floated by the City of Los Angeles earlier this year, although it likely informed the decision making process. As I wrote at the time

The city wants a gigabit-capable network that reaches pretty much every home and business in Los Angeles, plus WiFi coverage. As part of the deal, the winners would have to give away service for free to at least some households and to WiFi users.

That’s not Google’s business model, though. Google Fiber primarily targets cherry-picked neighborhoods that show a sufficient amount of interest, although it has at least paid lip service to offering service to less affluent areas in some cases. And free doesn’t factor into its plans at all.

For its part, the City of Los Angeles has been unwilling to put its crown jewel – the extensive system of poles and conduit that support its municipal electric utility – on the table. Pole access is a key item on Google’s checklist, so it might turn out that there won’t be much to talk about with the city. But at least the conversation can begin.