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City, Google Fiber Reach Deal To Restore Roads As Internet Service Ends In Louisville

John Cummings/Creative Commons

On the day Google Fiber service expires in Louisville, the city announced the company will pay millions to repair roads damaged by the experimental and ultimately failed shallow-trenching system employed here.

Google Fiber will pay Louisville $3.84 million to fix streets in Portland, Newburg and the Highlands, where the company laid cables a few inches under the road's surface. It will also pay to remove the sealant that covered those cables when they popped out of their grooves, to pave the roads and to remove above-ground infrastructure. The work will take about 20 months and could begin soon, city officials said in a press release.

The superfast internet service will cease operation in Louisville at 11:59 p.m. Monday. Local residents and customers were surprised and insulted by Google Fiber's announcement to leave in February, particularly because the company said at the time it would use what it learned in Louisville to improve its service elsewhere.

Grace Simrall, Louisville's civic innovation chief, said in February that she and other city officials were "taken by surprise" when Google Fiber announced its departure. But she said then that having Google Fiber in town increased competition and lower prices for the fastest internet options.

"It’s clear that Google Fiber’s presence in Louisville led other providers to step up and increase investment in Louisville, and that was good news for consumers everywhere," Simrall said in a press release on Monday.

She acknowledged in February that the "nano-trenching" technique could mean that the fiber lines Google Fiber laid may not have been in a good enough condition to be used by another provider.

In recent weeks, competitors such as AT&T and Spectrum have advertised deals to customers looking to switch internet service providers.

Mark Strama, the general manager for Google Fiber, said the company's $3.84 million payment — which is required by its franchise agreement — will allow Louisville to do the work required to protect its infrastructure.

In addition to the required payment, Google Fiber also donated $150,000 to the Community Foundation of Louisville’s Digital Inclusion Fund and plans to donate 275refurbished computers to the Louisville Metro Housing Authority.

A representative for Google Fiber declined to say how many customers the service had in Louisville.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.