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Google Fiber wiring not always pretty

Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - This spring will look less leafy at 39th and Genessee streets.

Blame the need for Internet speed.

A crew, hired by Google Inc. to make way for the company's overhead fiber optic lines, transformed the neighborhood ginkgo trees into tall stumps one morning last summer.

"They butchered 'em, just butchered 'em," said Ted Larkin, the owner of three buildings in the neighborhood.

Complaints would ultimately prompt the removal of what was left of the trees, replaced with saplings needing decades to produce the same shade.

"Technology," said Jim Svetlecic of State of the Art picture frame shop, "is not painless."

Once Google Fiber fully wires Kansas City with its light-speed-to-the-home Internet network, no other American market its size will boast such broad, broad broadband.

To get there, the Google Fiber technicolor bunny is tree-trimming, jackhammering and trenching its way across the area to hoist, bury and stretch a network of fiber optic lines that zig-zags - so far - for nearly 6,000 miles.

On a given day, city officials say, about 1,000 workers for private companies scatter across the market to climb utility poles, string cables through buried conduit or lace lines into crawl spaces to stitch together Google's network.

Sometimes their work leaves beloved trees denuded. Other times, crews clip electrical, telephone, cable or natural gas lines. On occasion, people nearby have had to clear out of homes or offices when gas leaks were triggered.

"(Google) is essentially re-plumbing the city for fiber," said Kansas City Power & Light Co. spokesman Chuck Caisley. "Folks need to understand that any infrastructure project is messy and difficult."

Still, complaints have piled up. On Google Fiber's online forum, one resident complained of a foul-mouthed crew that damaged a tree and a fence.

Google concedes the sometimes disruptive nature of its network construction.

"As construction projects increase," said company spokeswoman Jenny Gobble, "it's logical that damage happens."

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