Bellingham considering bid for Google Fiber project

The Bellingham Business Journal

City of Bellingham officials are evaluating Google’s Fiber For Communities initiative, which would bring ultra high-speed Internet here, and would like feedback from the community about whether or not Google’s initiative should be pursued.

A survey posted on the City’s website through Feb. 24 asks community members if the City should pursue this project, and why.

Google recently announced plans to test ultra high-speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Google officials have asked interested municipalities to provide information to help them decide where to build their network.

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike said City officials are evaluating whether it will be worthwhile to prepare a response by Google’s March 26 deadline. After Google’s announcement, Pike said he received encouragement from many local business owners, technology experts and community members to consider promoting Bellingham for this project.

“We are excited about the opportunities this project could create for Bellingham, including the opportunity for economic development and job creation in our area, increased technology capacity for public and private uses, and the innovative, sustainable ideas that will by spurred by the availability of ultra high-speed networking,” Pike said in a statement.

He added that Bellingham has many features that should be very attractive to Google, such as a strong higher education network and progressive K-12 schools, the presence of specific business types such as technology and health care, commitment to green initiatives and industries, community size and engaged citizens.

But he cautioned that there could be downsides to the idea, and he wants to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs from the very start.

“There are hurdles to Bellingham’s success in this process, such as steep competition across the country,” he said.

He added that Google also is likely to be looking for municipalities to provide resources, regulatory flexibility and other amenities. It will take time and resources to submit a proposal to Google.  If Bellingham makes a proposal and it is successful, it will take time and resources to support the installation of fiber optic cable throughout the City. Residents may experience construction disruption in their neighborhoods during installation.

To learn more, watch this video from Google:

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