Portland tells Google we'll get back to you on that

8 May 2014 by Steve Blum
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Even though Google says that all 34 cities it’s considering for FTTH expansion have more or less completed their fiber-ready checklist and remain in contention, it’s becoming clear that not all of them are bending over backwards (or forwards) in the process.

Portland is a good example. The city has posted its response to Google online and in many respects, it is simply saying no, albeit in a properly bureaucratic way.

The city’s bureau of transportation, which controls access to streets, essentially handed Google its standard policy for installing infrastructure in public of right of ways, which doesn’t actually meet Google’s requirements. Some of the discrepancies are small (and a bit disingenuous). For example Google wants a single point of contact for managing permit requests, the city’s response is to give them the standard, blind email address that serves as a one-way inbox.

Other differences are substantial. Portland is telling Google that it’s not going allow a citywide permitting process and it won’t set up any kind of streamlined system unless more staff is hired. And there’s no indication that it’s willing to do so. Google wants to be able to use microtrenching techniques to install fiber where it makes sense, the city says no. Google uses a 2-foot standard for burying fiber and avoiding other utilities, Portland’s response is that its standards are three to five feet. And so on.

Publicly, Google is still saying that Portland is still in the game. That indicates some willingness to compromise, but probably not much. As Google Fiber’s chief, Milo Medin, put it, “we work with communities that make it easy for us. if you make it hard on us, enjoy your cable connection”.