Real estate? I thought this was about the city’s “digital divide” and bringing ultra-high speed internet to the residents, with some minor corporate regulatory concerns, you say. Well, previous takes on the Google Fiber Texas opportunity in San Antonio have framed it as such. But there are other perspectives worth considering, as well, and in the wake of the city’s approval of a contract, it may be a perspective of interest to San Antonio real estate lawyers like S. Lee Stevenson. Real estate law is usually thought to be fraught with short sales or foreclosures for commercial properties or individual homes, but San Antonio’s contract with Google Fiber was a real estate contract, which could give it an interesting future from a legal standpoint according to this article in My San Antonio Online.
Not entirely uncontroversial in the first place, the city’s agreement with Google Fiber Texas has spurred concern that the fiber optics may be taking broadband’s place as a monopoly in the connective industry. Officially a “long-term master-lease,” the contract with Google Fiber Texas is with the City of San Antonio, but even some city council members aren’t sure of its implications. While the contract lays out specifics such as rights to build fiber optic infrastructure, some San Antonio real estate lawyers caution that the contract doesn’t guarantee access. Mayor Julian Castro reports that it “lays the legal framework needed for Google to move forward with its network” in the city, but no one can provide residents with an answer as to when that will happen.
Google officials themselves continue to emphasize that “none of the 34 cities in nine metro areas has yet been selected” for the network, but Castro feels confident San Antonio will get lucky. Still, it’s not a sealed deal, and it’s not an immediate answer, attorneys like Stevenson advise. Even after a contract is signed like the one between Google Fiber Texas and the city of San Antonio, the decision to make a major infrastructure change like the one associated with switching to fiber optic connectivity is followed by a lot of engineering and construction. The “fiber huts,” for example are communication shelters with measurements of 12 feet by 26 feet housing the fiber optic technology across various points of town – 40 of them. These take time to build, say San Antonio real estate lawyers, and in that process a lot can happen. There is no telling what obstacles or contract revision will go into the process.
That doesn’t mean that council members, city leaders, and residents aren’t excited. The 40 fiber huts will gain the city $2,240 per site in the first year, with rent rising by 3 percent each year in the initial 20-year term. That’s revenue for the city, narrowing in the digital divide, and a heck of a lot faster streaming for local internet users. And a lot can change, technologically, in 20 years, San Antonio real estate lawyers remind us. There may be something even better than fiber optic connectivity by then, so cities may be opting out of contract renewal, but for now, it seems to be something almost everyone is looking forward to.