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Could Google Fiber come to Aloha? Bull Mountain? Metzger?

Google considers unincorporated areas, county says

Google Fiber, the high-speed fiberoptic internet service, has been teasing about coming to the Portland area for months. If and when it does, it could expand its coverage to include unincorporated Washington County, according to the county.Get ready Metzger and Bull Mountain, there’s a chance that you might be getting Google Fiber, too.

That’s the word from Washington County, where county officials said on Monday that the tech giant had approached the county about including unincorporated urban areas if and when it decides to extend services to the Portland area.

“Washington County was contacted late last month by representatives of Google Fiber to discuss the possibility of expanding their service into the urban unincorporated areas of Washington County,” said county spokesman Philip Bransford in a written statement to the media. “The meeting was preliminary in nature, meaning that no negotiations are underway and there is no schedule for future meetings at this time.”

Google announced in 2014 that it was considering Oregon as the next base for its high speed service.

The company is currently working with Portland, as well as Tigard, Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Hillsboro and Gresham.

Google Fiber would bring Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — about 100 times faster than traditional broadband — for about the same price that Portland-area residents are currently paying to surf the web.

But Google’s choices for cities left out tens of thousands of Portland-area residents from the service.

Bransford said that added together, Washington County has about 200,000 people living in urban unincorporated areas, most of those between Tigard, Beaverton and Hillsboro.

By far the largest urban unincorporated community in Washington County is Aloha, which has a population similar to Tigard.

If Google Fiber were to come to the unincorporated Washington County, Bransford said that the county would have to make sure that the fiberoptic cables could be installed.

“Were Google Fiber to pursue deployment of its network in urban unincorporated Washington County, our role would be to oversee access to the right-of-way in urban unincorporated areas and to coordinate with city governments as design and construction plans begin,” Bransford said.

Kelly Mason, a spokeswoman with Google Fiber declined to comment, saying only that Google was “continuing exploratory conversations.”

One place that won’t be seeing Google Fiber are outlying cities in Washington County.

Neither Tualatin nor Sherwood have been approached by Google for talks, according to either city.

“We contacted Google to see if Tualatin could be included in the project,” said Sherilyn Lombos, Tualatin’s city manager. “My recollection is that they were pretty explicit that it was a Portland project. The cities they were including other than Portland share a border.”

In the meantime, the six Oregon cities being considered are continuing to work with Google to determine if it’s possible to bring fiber-optic, high-speed Internet to their communities.

Google was expected to make a decision on Oregon last year, but instead announced that it would bring its service to Salt Lake City as well as four metro areas in the south (Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham) instead, though it did keep Portland on its list of 'potential cities' and has posted job openings for a possible Portland plant.

Google is expected to make a decision about Portland sometime later this year.

By Geoff Pursinger
email: gpursinger@commnewspapers.com
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