'Google Fiber Will Reduce Impact On Neighborhoods,' Mayor Says

Apr 13, 2017

Mayor Ivy Taylor said when she asked the city to revisit the Google Fiber huts and their impact on neighborhoods back in January, she didn't want to scare the company off.


Remember, she said, this was just a few months after Google Fiber CEO Craig Barratt stepped down and nixed expansion into several other cities, while continuing to lose money.

"I'm not on the inside of their business," she said. "I don't know what all their concerns are as far as their overall program for rolling it out, so yeah that was a concern."

Now months later, she sees the Haskin Park hut removal and replacement with a smaller infrastructure hub as a positive. That's because Google Fiber has told her they are going to continue in San Antonio with a smaller tech footprint.

"They continue to look at how they can best roll out the system," she said. "It looks like it will be less huts in general, smaller scale huts and shallow trenching techniques."

Google has yet to release a public redesign for its work, but Google purchased wireless internet provider WebPass last year.

When Google — with the city's blessing — built one of its network huts in Haskin Park, on the city's northeast side, it became a flash point for a neighborhood that had seen several water pipe breaks and other property damage as a result of Google laying the fiber optic cable for the high-speed service. Complaints started coming in to the council district and to the mayor's office, and the city paused construction.

Taylor said she felt it was the right move "because I wanted to ensure that to the largest extent possible San Antonians would continue to welcome the company."

District 10 councilman Mike Gallagher said the removal is a win-win.

"Because we've been able to preserve having Google Fiber in the neighborhood, but at the same time we've reduced the impact on Haskin Park," Gallagher said.

It's unclear how the delay will affect the timeline for Google Fiber's completion.

Google Fiber representatives have not commented on future hut sizes or their network redesign, but said in a statement:

“We’ve heard from the community, loud and clear, that they want Google Fiber but they also want it deployed with a minimum of disruption to San Antonio’s neighborhoods and citizens."

Paul Flahive can be reached at paul@tpr.org or on Twitter @paulflahive