Thursday, April 11, 2013

As Google Fiber service continues in KCK, attention now paid to Olathe


It’s probably a pretty good bet to say that a lot of folks in Olathe are excited about Google Fiber coming to town.

And it’s probably a pretty good bet to that there will be several entities vying to become one of the four public “drop spots” as part of the agreement Olathe has with Google Fiber.

And according to Ron Shaver, deputy city attorney and a key figure in the negotiation process with Google, all options are on the table.

“Google will provide four drop spots that are public facilities,” Shaver said. “That could be city hall, the school district’s administration buildings, but we’ve yet to finalize and determine those. We are going to have further conversations with Google about what makes sense for their deployment and relating to the city‘s need and their deployment for us and what the school district and what the county can piggy back on.

“We are actively open on those discussions and all we know right now is the agreement calls for four drop spots and it also calls for WIFI locations if they deploy WIFI Network in the future but it doesn’t ID how many.”

How MidAmerica Nazarene University and the Johnson County Education and Research Triangle figure into the city’s and Google’s overall plan remains to be seen.

“Certainly we’ll want to bring our educational partners in the community into those discussions,” Shaver said.

Officials at MNU are eager to find out themselves about what Google Fiber will mean to the university and its students.

“We are excited to learn of Olathe’s continuing progress in being an innovative leader in the use of technology,” said Kevin Gilmore, vice president for finance at MNU. “We’re looking forward to learning more about the details and timing of the upcoming access to the Google Fiber network and how it many benefit our students, faculty and staff.”

Shaver said he expects Google Fiber to arrive in Olathe sooner than it took for people to begin receiving service in Kansas City, Kan.

“Customers in Kansas City, Kan., began receiving service about two years after the announcement,” he said. “We anticipate that service will be deployed in Olathe sooner. We already are having discussions with their engineers meeting with out staff to talk about installation of the network and that sort of thing, so we are optimistic that they will deploy sooner here than they have in any other city.”

Shaver said the city, as well as other communities throughout Johnson County, has had informal discussions with Google Fiber since it announced it was beginning service in Kansas City, Kan., in March of 2011. Shaver’s involvement in the negotiations began in January of this year.

“My understanding is that the city of Olathe expressed continued interest in negotiating and arrangement with Google to come to Olathe,” he said. “Perhaps other jurisdictions were having the same types of conversations with Google. We were excited to come to an agreement pretty swiftly.

“The negotiations were very cordial, very professional, and we had some issues along the way that we were able to iron out.”

Not long after Google announced its agreement with Olathe, the city of Overland Park confirmed it was in negotiations with Google Fiber when a city spokesman released this statement: “The city has expressed its interest in Google offering its services in the city, and the city is continuing to pursue those services with enthusiasm.”

Shaver said he was not aware of any formal agreements with Overland Park or any other community in Johnson County to coordinate the timing of any announcement of Google Fiber coming to Johnson County.

“We were required to sign a confidentiality arrangement with Google during the negotiations so we were not aware of other jurisdictions negotiating with Google and others were not aware of us negotiating, either,” Shaver said. “If Overland Park makes an announcement soon, it would not be terribly surprising.

“But I can certainly attest that it was a very exciting thing for Olathe to be the largest jurisdiction in Johnson County to have an announcement. It’s a feather in our cap and we’re excited. This is a major win for Olathe, for Olathe residents, for our organization, and for us to move forward. There are endless possibilities for what Google can afford our residents and afford us.”

Shave said he expects the city to benefit from what he called major innovation.

“It’s going to do some great things for our economic development in the future in attracting residents, attracting businesses and overall making Olathe a better community,” he said.