Council members respond to dozens of Google Fiber complaints

Streets under construction (KXAN)
Streets under construction (KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin City Council members are responding to more complaints as Google Fiber moves into more neighborhoods throughout Austin. KXAN found out this is the latest in a series of problems people say they’re having with the company as it trudges through front yards.

Byron Bryson says he’s been looking at one orange net after another on his street for months. “It’s definitely an eyesore,” says Byron.

His south Austin neighborhood is just one of many currently under construction for Google Fiber. “We didn’t realize they could tear up yards and do a lot of this without us being aware of what’s going on,” he said.

The reason they can? A public utility easement, meaning utilities can come on your property without your permission “Sometimes we ask when it’s going to be done and they say they’re not sure,” Byron said.

Since February of this year, Austin 311 has received more than 200 Google Fiber complaints of holes being left in yards and power getting knocked out. KXAN took the complaints down to city hall to see what council members had to say about it. Councilwoman Ann Kitchen, who represents district 5, says many are from her district in south Austin.

“We just need to make sure it’s done in a way that doesn’t tear up the neighborhoods. The expectation is it should be left the way it was,” Kitchen said.

Google Fiber declined our request for an on camera interview, but does say they’ve resolved 80 percent of the complaints. We visited one of the first neighborhoods to undergo construction and found no orange nets and yards that did not appear to be damaged. Byron just hopes his yard looks like their’s when this is all over. Google Fiber couldn’t give a timeline on when the work will be complete. Some other neighborhoods are getting AT&T fiber. Austin 311 says they have received 63 complaints since February involving those crews.

We checked to see if other cities had similar complaints when Google Fiber moved in. We reached out to Kansas City. Google started installing the high-speed internet there three years ago. A city spokesperson told us they had received about 35 complaints since April of 2013. Most were related to construction and restoration concerns.

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