Politics

Louisville Metro officials have been working with Google Fiber since last fall to bring the company’s coveted gigabit Internet connectivity to the city.

Few details about the proposal have emerged as Google examines the feasibility of coming to Louisville.

But a document provided to St. Matthews City Council members last month reveals new information about the timeframe for finalizing a deal, the company’s estimated investment in the project and the impact the service could have on property values of Louisville residents.

The document, which was obtained through an open records request, shows franchise agreements with ultra-fast Internet service providers may be in place as soon as March 1. That means installation of service infrastructure could follow shortly thereafter.

Ted Smith, chief of innovation for Louisville Metro, confirmed the contents of the document. But he said it’s unlikely the franchise agreements will be awarded by the beginning of next month. He said April is a more realistic deadline for the agreements.

This is the first glimpse of a timeline for bringing the ultra-fast Internet to Louisville.

Smith said the full Metro Council is expected to approve an agreement between Louisville Metro and suburban cities to condense the franchise-granting authority for communication services into a single entity. The vote is scheduled for tonight.

Under the agreement, local governments and Louisville Metro would together bid and award the telecommunication franchise for ultra-fast Internet access.

Smith said securing the agreement would allow the city to breach what’s considered a major logistical barrier to bringing fiber Internet to residents. Without the agreement, the franchise would have to be negotiated with dozens of government entities in Jefferson County.

Pending the agreement’s approval, Smith said Louisville Metro would begin accepting applications from service providers for franchise status as soon as next week. He said he is aware of three service providers looking to gain franchise authority for gigabit Internet service. Google Fiber is among the three; he declined to identify the others.

The ultra-fast Internet is expected to be cheaper and offer connectivity speeds as much as 100 times faster than what’s currently available to local subscribers.

There is also a financial impact of bringing the service to Louisville.

Google Fiber is expected to invest between $300 million and $1 billion in Louisville to install needed infrastructure. Homeowners connected to the service may also see their property values increase by as much as $5,000, Smith said.

When Google Fiber became available in Kansas City, homeowners began seeing home prices surge, Smith said. Now, residents looking to sell their homes are likely to include that they have access to the ultra-fast Internet.

“That’s a way people market their homes,” he said.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.