Google Fiber seals deal in Pocatello faster than ever before

Google Fiber named Pocatello as its first market in the state of Idaho, announcing plans to begin construction there by the end of this year and light up service by mid-2024. Ashley Church, GM for the West Region at Google Fiber, told Fierce its turnaround time for a deal with the city was one of the fastest it has ever recorded.

According to Church, it was city officials’ prior knowledge of micro-trenching techniques which helped speed discussions along. Usually, Google Fiber has to educate city officials about its favored deployment method, a process Church said “is pretty time consuming.”

“It takes some folks a long time to get there,” she said of understanding micro-trenching. “To have a city with the familiarity and to have the trust there of knowing what that process looks like and being able to physically see how it’s less disruptive and how quickly it moves, it really expedites those conversations to get them over the finish line quicker.”

Nestled in the southeastern portion of Idaho, Pocatello is a city of roughly 57,000 residents spread across a little over 21,000 households.

While it might seem a rather random place to build a fiber network (at least compared to a better known market like Boise), Church noted it is actually just a few hours’ drive from Google Fiber’s major construction hub in Salt Lake City Utah. That means the company will be able to flexibly allocate resources to Pocatello as needed – think construction crews and marketing staff – and apply the lessons it learned in Salt Lake City about operating in harsh winter environments.

Google Fiber expects to complete work in the city within the next couple of years and will light up service as it goes. As in its other expansion markets, Google Fiber will offer its 1 and 2 gig plans as well as its new 5 and 8 gig offerings. There it will be competing with Lumen’s CenturyLink brand as well as Cable One’s Sparklight and Direct Communications.

Though Pocatello is the operator’s first city in Idaho, it likely won’t be the last. GM of Expansion Markets Mark Strama told Fierce in February there are a “surprising number of communities in Idaho” that meet Google Fiber’s criteria for expansion markets, with several of these near Salt Lake City. At the time, Fierce identified Pocatello, Idaho Falls and Twin Falls a potential targets.

Google Fiber also has yet to announce where it plans to build in Nevada. Las Vegas appears to be a likely target, but Fierce could not immediately obtain information from city officials about whether they’re discussing the possibility with the company.

However, Las Vegas recently inked a fiber deal with another operator: AT&T’s Gigapower.