Google docs – Avondale withholds agreementEd Rieker
By Jill Nolin
Avondale Estates has approved a hut license agreement with Google, should the company decide to locate a supporting structure for its proposed high-speed fiber network on town property.
But the terms and conditions are not known because the agreement, which the City Commission unanimously approved Monday night, was not released.
When a reporter requested a copy of the agreement after the meeting, City Manager Clai Brown said it could not be provided because it had not yet been submitted to Google.
Mayor Ed Rieker told the reporter to file an open records request. Under the state’s open records law, the city will have three days to respond. Unlike other agenda items, the documents related to the hut license were not published on the town’s website prior to the meeting. Decaturish.com will file an open records request today.
During their respective meetings on Monday, Avondale Estates and Decatur both signed off on measures related to their bid to bring Google Fiber internet to the area. The project is widely hailed as a powerful economic development tool that would have the added bonus of driving down the costs for internet and TV services locally.
The competition is already stepping up. AT&T announced Monday that it plans to expand its own fiber-optic network, called GigaPower, into several metro areas. In Atlanta, AT&T’s website lists Decatur as one of 11 “possible communities” for the network. The others are Atlanta, Alpharetta, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, Marietta, McDonough, Newnan, Norcross and Woodstock. AT&T is currently providing the service in Austin.
Avondale Estates and Decatur are among eight in the metro area that Google targeted for possible future expansion. The hut license agreement was the last step in Avondale Estates’ application, which is due to Google by May 1.
“After this, we’re done,” Brown said just before the commission’s vote.
Rieker told the commission that it is unlikely that the hut structure, which would service about 20,000 connections, would actually end up in Avondale Estates. Between Decatur and Avondale, the hut is more likely to end up somewhere in Decatur; even so, the license agreement was necessary, he said.
The town will also likely come close to matching Google’s proposed $3 per square foot pricing. Previously, leasing rates as high as $25 per square foot were discussed, but the commissioners suggested offering Google between $2 and $5 per square foot.
The town is now looking at a rate of $2.5 to $3.5 per square foot. Rieker described as a “minimal income” for the city.
When a resident asked Monday night whether Google would increase its rates over time, Rieker said he only knew the rates that Google had provided the town.
“For the fiber product, it’s really, really, really, really, really fast. I could say ‘really’ a million times and still not cover it,” Rieker said.
“They’ve got a version that’s 25 meg up and 25 meg down. For a residential, it’s $300 and then you get it free for seven years. Then if you want the gig up and the gig down, which is the really, really, really super fast, that’s $120 a month … then if want TV on top of that, then it’s $150 a month.”