Google Fiber on long hold as Overland Park stalls

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) -- Google Fiber is bypassing Overland Park for now after the prosperous Kansas City suburb hesitated to sign a deal.

Google Fiber spent nine months negotiating a deal that would open the way for the company to sell its 1-gigabit-per-second Internet connections and cable-style TV service there, The Kansas City Star (http://is.gd/Ib7LRY) reported.

The deal, which is similar to those negotiated elsewhere, sought no direct subsidies and asked for some access to rights of way in return for free Internet service to public buildings such as schools and libraries. But the city council decided in September to put off a vote for a month because of concerns about an indemnification clause.

After receiving assurances, the council was ready to approve the agreement, unchanged, this month. But Google was no longer interested.

"Speed matters. We've said that from the beginning," company spokeswoman Jenna Wandres said. "It's all about timing."

Mayor Carl Gerlach said the indefinite delay surprised the council, which passed a resolution calling for Google Fiber to set up shop in the city.

"Overland Park wants Google Fiber," Gerlach said this week. "The City Council is ready to sign on the dotted line. . We're willing to wait as long as it takes."

Steve Effros, an industry analyst who headed the Cable Telecommunications Association for two decades, said Google is making an example out of Overland Park.

"Google is sending a negotiating message to any other city: You take our terms, or we're going to walk," said Effros, who's long argued that Google Fiber has negotiated better terms with cities than existing cable franchises.

The company insists, however, that engineering work across the Kansas City market is highly integrated. Waiting for Overland Park, for instance, might further delaying work in parts of south Kansas City and north of the Missouri River.

"Building fiber is complicated," Wandres said.