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Google Fiber expands in Utah

In another indicator that Google Fiber has awakened from its new buildout slumber, the unit announced today that it will extend its network and 1-Gig capabilities to Millcreek, Utah.

The expansion in Millcreek comes after the city approved a license agreement that gives Google Fiber access to rights-of-way to start construction later this year, Jacob Brace, Google Fiber's government and community affairs manager for Utah, explained in this blog post.

The new deal also arrives as Google Fiber nears the completion of its buildout in nearby Salt Lake City. Google Fiber announced the Salt Lake City construction in March 2015 and started service signups there in August 2016.

"As we finally near completion of construction in Salt Lake City, we’re not ready to stop growing in Utah," Brace explained.

The build in Millcreek also continues Google Fiber's love affair with the state of Utah that goes back about seven years. In April 2013, Google Fiber struck a deal to acquire iProvo, an existing fiber-based network operator owned by the city, along with a promise to upgrade the network to 1-Gig speeds and complete the construction of the network. Google Fiber got a screaming deal to do it, agreeing to assume operation and ownership of the iProvo network in exchange for $1.

Brace said the goal is to start serving customers in Millcreek in early 2021. Comcast and CenturyLink are the incumbent service providers in the market.

The Millcreek agreement is another sign that Google Fiber is becoming active again with fiber-to-the-premises buildouts. Following a four-year pause on new builds so that it could concentrate on existing market deployments, Google Fiber recently struck a private/public partnership to bring fiber-based broadband services to homes and businesses in West Des Moines, Iowa, home to incumbent cable operator Mediacom Communications.

In West Des Moines, Google Fiber is being billed as the first tenant of what will become an open access network that will allow other parties to sell and distribute broadband services. Construction is expected to start this fall and take 2.5 years to complete.

Google Fiber, a unit that also uses fixed wireless technologies to deliver broadband, is part of Alphabet's "New Bets" unit for longer-term moonshot initiatives. Driven by Google Fiber and the Verily life sciences unit, Alphabet's New Bets unit posted Q1 2020 revenues of $135 million, down from $170 million in the year-ago period. That was paired with an operating loss of $1.12 billion, widened from a loss of $868 million. Capex for New Bets rose slightly in Q1 – to $92 million, from $84 million in the year-ago period.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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