Google FTTH in Kansas City hits pole attachment snag

Google’s FTTH test bed effort in Kansas City, KS, has been delayed due to pole attachment issues, according to a report in the Kansas City Star. The company has not been able to reach agreement with local authorities on installation details, including fees, for the fiber-optic cable the FTTH network will require.

Google’s FTTH test bed effort in Kansas City, KS, has been delayed due to pole attachment issues, according to a report in the Kansas City Star. The company has not been able to reach agreement with local authorities on installation details, including fees, for the fiber-optic cable the FTTH network will require.

The digital media behemoth declined to comment to the Star, and the local mayor denied that the project is behind schedule. But the paper notes that Google originally said it planned to begin to sign up customers in the fourth quarter of last year and launch service in the first quarter of this year. The company has not signed up any customers, and doesn’t have a network.

Google was well aware that right of way could be a problem. Milo Medin, head of the FTTH effort, told the San Jose Mercury News in December 2010 that the company’s due diligence had uncovered rights of way and permitting as potential sticking points in choosing a community partner (see "Google: No FTTH testbed choice this year"). The article in the Star asserts that Google had mentioned its expectation that the unified government of Wyandotte County – a single entity that operates as the government authority of both Kansas City, KS, and the county of which it is a part – could streamline the permitting process because it also owns the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities.

But if the devil is in the details, an exorcism may need to be performed. The holdup centers on how closely Google can string its cable to electrical power lines. The original agreement gives Google permission to string its cable at market rates where codes typically permit communications cables to be attached. But Google also was given permission to install its cables without an extra fee in the pole area normally reserved for power lines.

Google, naturally, wants to attach most of its cable in that space. But to do so, it would likely have to use more highly skilled, and more expensive, technicians to perform the attachment. Local officials and Google are still working out how to balance safety with cost, according to the Star.

The effort has not encountered similar problems in Kansas City, MO, because the agreement there is more specific – and doesn’t give Google rights to string cable in the space normally reserved for power cables.

The story quotes a spokesman from the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities as expressing confidence that a resolution to the problem could be reached within “the next week or two.”

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