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PROVO — The Google Fiber era is officially underway in Utah County.
Residents of Provo now have the opportunity to demo and play with Google Fiber to see how fast a gigabit really is with the grand opening of the first Fiber Space retail store at The Shops at Riverwoods.
Kris Wilson was among the first residents to visit the new retail location on Friday. He noted that his current satellite television package is a bit expensive and he's looking forward to the benefits of the new Internet service — which he is upgrading to a package that includes high-tech TV service — for himself and his wife.
“I think she’ll love it once she gets use to it,” Wilson said. “We watch a lot of family-oriented movies, and the free (programming) will be more available with the new service.”
In April, Provo announced that it would become the third city in the nation to have Google Fiber, along with Kansas City, Mo., and Austin, Texas. Google Fiber uses a fiber-optic network to provide fast and powerful Internet, as well as TV service. The three Google Fiber plans require a network box — essentially a router included with the one-time $30 activation fee.
After that, the basic Internet service is free for Provo residents for at least seven years.
Provo signed an agreement giving Google access to its existing fiber-optic network called iProvo, which was operated by Veracity. Google Fiber will be available to most homes along the iProvo network, which is the majority of Provo residences. Eligibility can be determined by entering an address on the Google Fiber website.
Since the April announcement, Google has been working to upgrade the system to handle 1-gigabit speeds. Provo also chose 25 nonprofit organizations to receive 1-gigabit Internet service, provided for free by Google as part of the Google Fiber Community Connections program.
Our goal is to get widespread connectivity throughout Provo. People who haven't been able to afford Internet before can now get access. Studies have shown that when people are connected to the Internet, students are far more likely to finish high school and go to college. … It spurs local jobs and the local economy.
–Devin Baer, head of marketing and sales for Google Fiber Provo.
After residents are connected, they will have three service options. The first is a 5-megabit connection, which provides a 5-megabit-per-second download speed and 1-megabit-per-second upload, and is free for at least seven years. The next two options include a terabyte of cloud storage and a 1-gigabit Internet connection for $70 a month or $120 a month if customers add a TV package that requires a two-year contract and includes a Nexus 7 tablet to use as a remote control.
“Our goal is to get widespread connectivity throughout Provo,” said Devin Baer, head of marketing and sales for Google Fiber Provo. “People who haven’t been able to afford Internet before can now get access. Studies have shown that when people are connected to the Internet, students are far more likely to finish high school and go to college. … It spurs local jobs and the local economy.”
Even for those who choose the basic option, having free web access with tech support is an opportunity that is hard to quibble with.
“It seemed pretty slick,” Provo resident Kaye Nelson said. "It seems faster than what we had. It’s quite efficient.”
She said having such an advanced technology available to virtually every resident of the city is exciting and innovative.
“It’s a good thing for Provo,” Nelson said. “The schools can benefit, businesses can benefit, (and) individuals who work at home can benefit.”