Big decisions for apartment owners interested in Google Fiber

Google Fiber has clarified how apartment buildings and condos can pre-register for its service, and now building owners have to make a fast decision to meet the September 9 deadline.

Ever since Google Fiber announced its pre-registration system in late July, apartment building owners and residents have been confused about how they could ensure they will get the service. At a meeting last night, more than 100 people heard Google’s new plan for “MDUs” or “multiple dwelling units.”

Google’s Mike Gottfried started the meeting by saying Google Fiber had some problems getting apartments into its pre-registration system. He says the company listened to concerns and made some changes. “We learned that MDUs are not created equal and they are not like single family homes.”

Gottfried then revealed the new system for ensuring that apartments and condos will get wired along with single-family homes in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas.

How apartments can get pre-registered: Google says it can’t put the onus for signing up on renters, who may have trouble being locked into its two-year contract.  Instead, it will require the owner of the building to pre-register for 100 percent of the units in the building. Since the pre-registration fee is $10, a building owner with 60 apartments would need to pay $600 before September 9, the cutoff date for pre-registration, to ensure the building would be eligible to be wired. Only a building owner, not individual tenants, can pre-register, and the landlord must sign a letter of intent before the cutoff date.

How condos can get pre-registered: For condos, Google is asking the homeowners association or condo board to sign a letter of intent. The board must also pay a $10 pre-registration fee for each unit by September 9.

How apartments and condos can get wired: The bigger decision for owners of a larger building will come when Google Fiber begins wiring neighborhoods. There is a $300 “construction fee” for each home or apartment being wired. Google Fiber is waiving the construction fee for single-family homes that sign up for its top-tier $120/month or $70/month packages. But apartment owners and condo boards must pay the $300 fee for each unit, so the owner of that 60-unit building would have to pay $18,000. Google has estimated its high-speed fiber could add $2000 – $5000 to the value of a single-family property.

How building owners can get their construction fee back: Google will rebate $25 per month per unit to the owner for each unit whose occupants sign up for the top-tier services. That means if a renter pays for one of the Google Fiber top-tier services for a year, the building owner would get back his or her $300 construction fee in the first year. If 100 percent of the building’s occupants sign up for the service, the landlord would get a 100 percent rebate over several years. The rebate offer extends for ten years and is available any month that a tenant is paying for the service, until the owner has recouped the original fee.