When newly elected Provo Mayor John Curtis took office in January 2010, one of his biggest challenges — what others have described as a “millstone around the neck of Provo” — was what to do with the iProvo network costing the city a bundle.
Three years later, Mayor Curtis alleviated the fiscal failure facing the city and also launched Provo into the national spotlight. In April 2013, Mayor Curtis announced the expansion of Google Fiber into Provo, meaning 1 GB speed bandwidth and free Internet to all Provo residents for seven years.
“Clearly, the vast majority of residents are elated,” Mayor Curtis says of the Google Fiber deal. “On the one hand, you have this wonderful thing happening for our city, and on the other hand, there was a terrible problem solved.”
City residents can pay a one-time fee of $30 and receive free Internet with 5 mbps download speed (1 mbps upload speed) for seven years. Upgraded services bring 1 gigabit speed to residents paying $70 per month.
Google Fiber says one reason they came to Provo is because in 2000, the city was looking at the importance of connectivity for residents. The existing infrastructure sped up the process of bringing Google Fiber to Provo residents.
“Provo has been a great partner through this process,” says Jenna Wandres, spokesperson for Google Fiber.
Mayor Curtis pays back the compliments and acknowledges that people may not realize the high-speed rate of the partnership with Google Fiber.
“Kansas City has been going for a couple of years, but couldn’t install because they had to build the infrastructure,” Mayor Curtis says. “We’re almost neck-and-neck with Kansas because we already had an infrastructure in place.”
But more than talking “speed,” Mayor Curtis is excited about access.
“What does it mean to have every kid in school have access to the Internet at home?” Mayor Curtis asks. “Every student. The ability to say it’s available to every home in the city is something no other city I know of can say.”
And the excitement is only beginning.
“One of the reasons we’re building Google Fiber is that we want to move the Web forward,” Jenna says. “We’re excited to see what developers can do with increased bandwidth. One of the reasons we’re in Provo is because it’s a tech-savvy community. We’re hoping the entrepreneurs and developers in the area will use the additional capacity to develop the next level of the Internet.”
Mayor Curtis calls Google Fiber a game-changer because it removes limitations.
“No one knows what that really means yet, but you take a community like Provo — the entrepreneurial and technological spirit — and you say, ‘You have no limits on speed,’” he says. “We’re all excited to see that actually happen.”