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Lake Oswego is on short list for ultra-high-speed broadband

by: DANA HAYNES - Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker speaks at Portland City Hall Wednesday along with other advocates for the arrival of Google Fiber to the metro region.Lake Oswego is one of six cities in the region on a national short list to get Google Fiber ultra-high-speed broadband by 2015.

The others are Beaverton, Gresham, Hillsboro, Portland and Tigard. The announcement was made Wednesday morning during a press conference at Portland City Hall by representatives of the company, the various cities and a number of businesses that could benefit from the higher-speed connections. Google Fiber, now only available in a few markets nationally, is about 100 times faster than conventional broadband.

“We’re thrilled that Google is starting the conversation with cities in this region,” said Darcy Nothnagle, the company’s western regional public affairs and government relations director.

The cities are not required to put any money into the effort. Instead, they must convince Google that the existing infrastructure can support fiber optics to virtually every home and school, and that the governments can quickly issue the large number of permits needed to complete the project quickly.

Lake Oswego Mayor Kent Studebaker said high-speed broadband is critical for attracting young families to the region.

“The younger generation looks at high-speed broadband as a basic service,” he added.

More than two dozen other cities in the country are also in the running.

Nothnagle said her company hopes to receive the information it has requested by May and decide where to expand by the end of the year.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said all businesses will benefit from ultra-high-speed broadband access.

“Whether it’s a high-tech company or a traditional manufacturer, all businesses rely on broadband access these days,” Hales said.

Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle was equally excited, but he said it is important everyone is served, regardless of income levels.

“It is really important that the equity piece is included,” said Doyle.

Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis said the effort is an example of regional cooperation.

“This is a great day for the entire Portland region,” Bemis said.

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