Google's FTTH aspirations run into utility pole snag in Kansas City

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) may have high aspirations for its 1 Gbps Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network in Kansas City, Kan., but those dreams have turned into somewhat of a nightmare as it's in the midst of a dispute with the local utility company on where it can place its fiber cables on existing electric utility poles.

"We still don't have an approval of the agreement," David Mehlhaff, a spokesman for the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities, told The Kansas City Star.

One of the reasons why Google initially chose Kansas City out of the pool of applicants for its FTTH project was that they were promised that the process to install their cable on the utility poles would be quick.

While the city promised that "when Google is in the restricted BPU electrical supply space," the zone reserved for power lines, "fees shall not apply," it will then have to pay the high cost of paying specialists that have the expertise of installing fiber cable close to electrical wires. It is estimated that these journeyman linemen charge hourly rates almost 50 percent higher than technicians who install cable in the zones allocated to telecom and cable.

This issue has proved to be a big setback for the Google, which had hoped to start signing up customers in Q4 2011 and offer services in Q1 2012. In addition, the service provider has yet to reveal prices for its 1 Gbps service.

However, neither the Unified Government of Wyandotte County nor the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities would acknowledge how far this issue has delayed the project.

In the near-term, the delay could be a small godsend for broadband provider SureWest (Nasdaq: SURW). Over the past year, the service provider has been aggressively updating its both its existing HFC plant with DOCSIS 3.0 capabilities and bringing its FTTH network to an additional 5,000 homes in nearby Olathe, Kan.

For more:
- Kansas City Star has this article
- here's FierceCable's take

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