Google Fiber goes to Utah on the cheap, buys iProvo for $1

Apparently Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) got a deal it couldn't refuse: an offer to purchase Provo, Utah's municipal fiber system for $1 to bring Google Fiber to the city.

According to media reports, including Tom's Hardware reporter Jane McEntegart, Google agreed to purchase the iProvo municipal network for $1. In exchange, among other things, the search-engine-turned-service provider will offer residents free basic Internet service after an initial $30 connection fee, said a story in redOrbit.

The city-owned iProvo network, valued in the redOrbit article at $39 million, never seemed to reach its full potential. It was sold to Google for a buck "for legal reasons," Android Community's Cory Gunther told the publication.

Google itself is expecting to do much better with the network, according to Kevin Lu, general manager of Google Fiber, writing in a corporate blog.

"As part of the acquisition we would commit to upgrade the network to gigabit technology and finish network construction so that every home along the existing iProvo network would have the opportunity to connect to Google Fiber," Lu wrote.

The agreement with city fathers isn't finalized yet, but, once it is, "we intend to begin the network upgrades as soon as the closing conditions are satisfied and the deal is closed," Lu wrote.

In Provo, Google sees an opportunity to extend a broadband vision that, for whatever reason, was never fully realized between 2004 and 2011 when the city started looking for a partner to acquire and complete the network.

"We're committed to keeping their vision alive, and, if the deal is approved and the acquisition closes, we'd offer our free Internet service (5 Mbps speeds) to every home along the existing Provo network for a $30 activation fee and no monthly charge for at least seven years," Lu wrote. "We would also offer Google Fiber gigabit Ethernet … and the option for Google Fiber TV service … and "provide free gigabit Internet service to 25 local public institutions like schools, hospitals and libraries."

The proposed acquisition and network expansion came replete with the same questions that have dogged every Google Fiber rollout (Kansas City, Kan., and Austin, Texas, being the other two).

Peter Kafka, of AllThingsD asked the primary two: What is Google planning to do, and what is Google planning to spend?

His suggestions are that Provo is "a sandbox for Google … literally trying to figure out what goes into offering that kind of speed, and what happens when customers take advantage of it."

He also throws aside skepticism and suggests that Google could really be intent on "wiring a big swath of the country" because, simply put, Google can "afford just about anything."

Whatever the reason, it appears, city fathers' blessings in hand, Google has quickly added a third city to its Google Fiber play.

For more:
- Google has this blog post
- redOrbit has this story
- and AllThingsD has this analysis

Related articles:
Google Fiber to buy iProvo network, upgrade Utah city to 1 Gbps
Is municipal broadband worth the cost?
Google, AT&T promise high-speed race in Austin