Last week I mentioned the concerns over the $1 sale price of the iProvo fiber network to Google. Well, the Provo Google Fiber project continues to get even stranger than that. From the Daily Herald article on the Provo city council vote:

Curtis also introduced new information and obligations that had not been discussed during the initial excitement of last week. There will be a need to spend some money. For one, the map on where the fiber conduits are actually laid is not available and it may take some guessing at a few locations as to what side of the street the fiber backbone is under. There is also an agreement the city will have control of the fiber to the schools and the city operations. Money has already been set aside from the telecom fund to take care of those needs. An insurance policy will also be needed to protect the city from the unknown. The total cost for city outlay will be approximately $1.7 million.

Emphasis at the end is mine.

A more detailed breakdown was reported by The Salt Lake Tribune:

  • $722,000 “for equipment in order to continue using the gigabit service for government operations already using the network, such as the operation of traffic lights and police and fire services.”
  • $500,000 “to a civil engineering firm to determine exactly where the fiber optic cables are buried, a requirement by Google”
  • $500,000 “for an insurance policy to help mitigate any possible legal damages should Provo‚Äôs network not be presented to Google as promised”

Of course Google is paying Provo $1 for the network, so the real cost to Provo for selling their existing fiber network to Google is only $1,721,999. Still a fair bit money to pay someone to take an asset off your hands.

Then there is the issue of not even knowing where all of the fiber in the ground actually is. Didn’t they have to file permits with the city when they installed it in the first place? If they moved it later on, wouldn’t that require getting permits from the city as well? For something that they paid $39M for I would have thought they would keep a close eye on it.

The Salt Lake Tribune also reported numbers on how much is still due on the original $39M in bonds:

With interest, taxpayers still have to pay $3.3 million in bond payments per year for the next 12 years.

For a total of $39.6M that Provo will have paid out over the next 12 years.

This story may still have a happy ending. If Google Fiber in Provo blossoms into everything it could be, then all of this may have been worth it.

The money thing doesn’t really freak me out though. What really freaks me out is that the city of Provo has connected “operation of traffic lights and police and fire services” to the same fiber network that connects to the Internet. That strikes me as a really, really, really bad idea.