Salt Lake City mayor Ralph Becker announced today that his city will be the next destination for the coveted Google Fiber service. Speaking at The Leonardo museum in downtown Salt Lake City, the mayor said Google Fiber “makes sense” for the city, citing the state’s leadership in technology and information.
Google Fiber currently offers service to three cities: Kansas City, Austin, and Provo. Salt Lake City is now one of five upcoming Fiber cities, joining Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham.
Rumors have persisted for weeks that Google will purchase the Salt Lake area’s local fiber co-op, which is called Utopia. When Google Fiber moved to Provo, it began by purchasing the unprofitable municipal fiber infrastructure in that city. Google announced the Provo, Utah fiber purchase on the same day it announced plans to expand to Provo, but today’s announcement contained no mention of Utopia. Speculation continues to swirl about whether Google will attempt to purchase or compete with the network, which currently offers business and residential service to 10 cities in and around the Salt Lake valley.
What is certain is that Google will offer Fiber service to homes within the city’s municipal boundaries. It is expected that users will be able to purchase service at prices similar to those in neighboring Provo.
There’s no doubt that Google will be bringing a new level of competition downtown. Some areas downtown currently have DSL speeds slower than Google’s free fiber tier.
Salt Lake City has campaigned hard in the past to bring more tech companies closer to the city, but few so far have opted to move close to Salt Lake City. Many see low-cost fiber service as a major selling point that could bring new companies, capital, and jobs to the city’s often vacant office space.