Gigabit Internet to empower Provo entrepreneurs

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Google Fiber offers Gigabit speed Internet, providing opportunities for Provo entrepreneurs and innovators. (Photo by Samuel Broomhead)

Google Fiber painted a picture of the future for members of the Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum as they addressed effects of gigabit Internet speeds on Provo entrepreneurs on Feb. 13.

Forum participants gathered in the ballroom of the Provo City Library to listen to presentations by Provo mayor John Curtis and Google Fiber head of operations John Richards. Both have been heavily involved in bringing Google Fiber to Provo. Mayor Curtis described opportunities of gigabit Internet speeds with a metaphor.

“When electricity was invented, it was made solely to turn a lightbulb on. We had no idea what else would come of it. That is how we feel about Google Fiber,” Mayor Curtis said.

Mayor Curtis explained that gigabit Internet speeds may open the door to technological advances in education and healthcare that were previously unimaginable.

Richards said he believes that the United States lags in Internet speeds and suffers higher broadband costs than other countries. According to Richards, gigabit Internet speed is the solution. Richards said that gigabit Internet is nearly 100 times faster than average broadband speeds.

“If you were to start in Provo and drive to Manhattan, Google Fiber would be in Manhattan by the time today’s average speeds could take you to Heber,” Richards said.

According to John Pilmer, owner or Pilmer PR, and UVEF communications chair, UVEF’s mission is to connect entrepreneurs with money, markets and mentors. Pilmer believes that Google Fiber will draw more entrepreneurs to Provo.

“Google Fiber in Provo is going to draw technology types, entrepreneurial startups, like bees to honey,” Pilmer said.

Each speaker praised the Provo City’s acquirement of Google Fiber, but according to Mayor Curtis, the road to Google Fiber in Provo has been a long one. Mayor Curtis recounted his journey:

“When I was elected as mayor, it was a dark era for the iProvo fiber network,” Mayor Curtis said, “We owned this network, with $4 million of debt and no revenue stream. To make matters worse, that network was about 10 years old. The city was looking at putting tens of millions of dollars back into the network to make it viable.”

Mayor Curtis said Provo sold the network, but the purchaser could not make the payments so Provo repossessed the network. Later attempts to sell the network failed because of the network’s outdated technology. Though Google Fiber declined to purchase the network, they offered to use it to provide free Internet and make gigabit Internet available to all of Provo.

Google Fiber subscriptions are now available to Provo residents at fiber.google.com.

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