Google Fiber eyes Boise as Idaho expansion target

Mesa, Omaha, Lakewood…Boise? It appears Google Fiber could soon be on its way to Idaho’s largest city, though the operator hasn’t formally announced a deal with local officials.

Back in August 2022, Google Fiber announced plans to expand into five new states – including Idaho – over the coming years. At the time, however, it provided little detail about what markets it would be building in, opting instead to announce them individually over the subsequent months. To date, it has named Mesa, Arizona; Omaha, Nebraska; and Lakewood, Colorado as expansion markets.

Until now, its plans for Idaho and Nevada have been unclear: though some news outlets mentioned Boise, Google itself never did. However, newly published documents indicate Google Fiber has indeed homed in on Boise and surrounding Ada County as its targets in Idaho.

The Idaho Department of Commerce recently published a number of grant proposals it received last month for broadband infrastructure projects in the state. Submissions included an application from Ada County officials – including the Mayor of Boise – requesting $20 million to build a 140-mile middle mile fiber ring. Google Fiber’s General Manager for Expansion Operations Mark Strama wrote a letter in of support of the project.

In the letter, Strama noted that while the operator wasn’t yet building there it was “in active conversations to expand to the state of Idaho, including to Boise and Ada County.” He added approval of the proposed middle-mile project would be a factor which could “encourage us” and other operators to deploy there.

“Should we proceed to deploy in Ada County, to the extent the proposed middle-mile network coincides with our designed network, we would welcome the opportunity to collaborate on joint trenching to reduce the cost of construction for all parties,” he wrote. “In addition, or in the alternative, to the extent the proposed middle-mile network is completed prior to our own deployment, we would welcome the opportunity to lease conduit or fiber.”

A Google Fiber representative confirmed it is "having conversations with a number of communities in Idaho," but did not mention Boise specifically.

Alexandra Winkler, Boise's chief information officer, told Fierce "In Boise, we are focused on creating a city for everyone and a big part of that is making sure everyone who lives, works and plays in our community has fast, reliable and affordable internet access. New internet service providers and open access middle mile networks would help us do that, providing more opportunity for everyone."

Google Fiber has been targeting smaller cities with poor internet service, which is significant given Boise was in Ookla’s bottom ten cities by median download speed in Q4 2022.

The same criteria – a smaller city with poor internet – would suggest Las Vegas as the company’s fiber target in Nevada, especially since Ookla's data showed speeds there were much worse than in Reno. But again, the Google Fiber representative confirmed discussions are ongoing in Nevada without specifying a city.

Asked whether discussions with Google Fiber are underway, the City of Las Vegas' Chief Innovation Officer Michael Sherwood said only “We are very excited at the prospect of companies like Google Fiber coming to Nevada. Breaking down the digital divide is vital to our community with more options for connectivity.”


This story has been updated to remove a line which suggested Google's data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa was near Idaho. It clearly isn't. A comment fromLas Vegas and Boise officials have also been added.