Texas regulators put Google Fiber in the fast lane

1 July 2015 by Steve Blum
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It seemed odd that San Antonio wasn’t on the list earlier this year when Google announced four new cities for its fiber to the home initiative. The city bent over backwards making Google welcome and it’s a short drive – less than a six pack, as they measure such things in Texas – from its current base in Austin.

Now it turns out that Google has been keeping its eye on the Alamo City. A story by Mark Reagan in the San Antonio Current says that Google asked for and quickly received permission to expand its fiber system from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The story quotes a Google spokesman as saying

San Antonio has been great to work with as we’ve explored bringing Google Fiber to the city, and this amendment to our state franchise is an important next step. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber to San Antonio soon.

If you’re still wondering why Google is showing more love to Texas than its home state of California, consider this: the application to expand its service area was filed with the Texas PUC on 21 May 2015 (not 5 June as reported in the Current article) and was approved three weeks later on 10 June 2015.

As someone who has done business with the California Public Utilities Commission, I gotta say the first thing I did was download the original documents and check to make sure the filing date wasn’t really 2014. Or 2013. I’ve worked on a couple of projects that involved getting this kind of certification in California, and it took two years, not three weeks.

There are times when California’s lengthy – some would argue thorough – review processes are valuable. The investigation into Comcast’s now defunct plan to acquire Charter and Time Warner systems here is a case in point. But most decisions are nowhere near as fraught and spending months and years following a byzantine process for routine matters only detracts from the CPUC’s – or other agencies’ – ability to pursue truly serious business.