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Portland Edges Closer To Google Fiber 106

Posted by timothy
from the bridge-and-router-city dept.
Rambo Tribble (1273454) writes Portland, Oregon has taken another step toward finalizing a franchise agreement with Google Fiber. In a unanimous vote, the city council has approved the prospective contract. While existing Internet Service Providers fume, Mary Beth Henry, manager of Portland's Office for Community Technology, pointed out that Google is prepared to make a major investment in the city's infrastructure, while the other firms are not. Ms. Henry also indicated that Google was not receiving any special treatment. Google spokesperson, Jenna Wandres, responded to events in an email, saying, "There's still a lot of work to do beyond this one agreement, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber here later this year."
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Portland Edges Closer To Google Fiber

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  • by Jawnn (445279) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:21PM (#47224009)
    You wouldn't compete, or can't compete, so you lose. Now STFU.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NotDrWho (3543773)

      Who needs to compete when you have lobbyists?

      Rest assured, the second they perceive Google as a real threat, there will be a bevy of laws passed to obstruct this sort of deal. Just like they've already passed laws in 30 states banning municipal broadband.

      • by swillden (191260)

        Who needs to compete when you have lobbyists?

        Rest assured, the second they perceive Google as a real threat, there will be a bevy of laws passed to obstruct this sort of deal. Just like they've already passed laws in 30 states banning municipal broadband.

        Google has lobbyists, too.

        • by NotDrWho (3543773)

          Compared the the telco/cableco industry, Google's lobbyists aren't even a fart in a windstorm.

      • by maomoa (1040372)

        Rest assured, the second they perceive Google as a real threat, there will be a bevy of laws passed to obstruct this sort of deal. Just like they've already passed laws in 30 states banning municipal broadband.

        Yeah, that's not going to happen in this state, at least with Comcast. We can't even get fluoride in the water, but you could sure as shit bet those laws would be repealed through a voter initiative in the next election cycle.

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @07:35PM (#47226063)

        Just like they've already passed laws in 30 states banning municipal broadband.

        This isn't municipal broadband. It is a company following the rules for obtaining a franchise.

        It's a demonstration that the "government monopoly" that is allegedly granted by means of a franchise agreement isn't as much of a dejure monopoly as is claimed.

        • by rtb61 (674572)

          Of course that particular government could be a bit smarter and alter the contract so that Google only provides wholesale fibre to retail ISPs and if they want to provide a separate retail ISP service. This helps to ensure competition at least for most areas of service and ensures the fibre becomes and remains essential infrastructure. Whilst it might seem a disadvantage for Google, there are many advantages, less billing services, many marketing services, less resistance from existing small and medium ISP

          • by Obfuscant (592200)

            Of course that particular government could be a bit smarter and alter the contract so that Google only provides wholesale fibre to retail ISPs and if they want to provide a separate retail ISP service.

            I don't understand your incomplete sentence. "if they want to provide" then what? But it doesn't matter. The government cannot unilaterally change the contract, so if they want something Google doesn't, Google can walk.

            less resistance from existing small and medium ISPs

            Existing ISPs have very little to say over who else joins the party. The cable/telco people do because they're infrastructure providers who have had to negotiate franchises and expect equal treatment.

            and ensures the fibre becomes and remains essential infrastructure.

            Except it isn't. Fiber is one of many different kinds of transport for data. It is not, in

    • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:49PM (#47224229) Journal

      Um, I live in the Portland metropolitan area, and I already have fiber to the house. Have had for years. From a telco. At least two telcos in this area have been offering fiber for some time. And let me tell you, as an alternate to Comcast, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread.

      The free market has generally been fiber vs Comcast. The Comcast salescreature stops by my house about once a month trying to get me to change to them. Something to do with how many channels I'd get for a low low introductory price. I point out we haven't had cable TV, haven't for years, all we have is internet and phone, and we're thinking of dumping the land line. And he gets rude. Once he yelled at my wife. I called the office and complained. Of course, nothing came of it.

      Let's assume Google for some reason lays fiber right next to what I'm using and offers the same speed at the same price. I'd be inclined to stick with what I have. Google makes their money off data mining and advertising. I'd feel uncomfortable having them as my internet provider.

      So, rail against the free market if you must, but as far as I'm concerned,,, yeah, I'm good.

      • by Grishnakh (216268)

        I live in NJ, and I have Comcast. I also have a fiber to my home, from Verizon, and I don't use it for two reasons: 1) it's more expensive than Comcrap (not by much), and 2) it's slower than Comcrap. Did you miss the recent rash of articles about Netflix and Verizon getting into a row about Verizon being too slow? I don't have that problem with Comcrap lately, after they did their peering agreement with Netflix.

        Fiber from Verizon is most certainly not "the greatest thing since sliced bread". That's utte

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          I live in NJ, and I have Comcast. I also have a fiber to my home, from Verizon, and I don't use it for two reasons: 1) it's more expensive than Comcrap (not by much), and 2) it's slower than Comcrap. Did you miss the recent rash of articles about Netflix and Verizon getting into a row about Verizon being too slow? I don't have that problem with Comcrap lately, after they did their peering agreement with Netflix.

          Fiber from Verizon is most certainly not "the greatest thing since sliced bread". That's utterly insane.

          And he gets rude. Once he yelled at my wife.

          It'd be funny if a Comcast (or Verizon) salesperson did this in Texas or Florida and was shot.

          I called the office and complained. Of course, nothing came of it.

          You should have called the police and filed a report, then gone to court and gotten a restraining order against the company.

          Well, it's new jersey. I don't have any other explanation. I have 25 Mbps to the house, and with wife using the roku box downstairs and daughter using the netflix appliance upstairs and me torrenting RHEL 7 beta, we're all good. I *can* swamp out the connection with enough torrent activity, but I really have to work at it. But mostly, the fiber has just been dead nuts reliable, unlike Comcast, and the few times I've had to call Frontier over the last several years, they've been pleasant and effective, a

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Well, it's new jersey. I don't have any other explanation.

            All the articles about the Verizon/Netflix war of words and low performance are not about New Jersey, they're nationwide.

            • by roc97007 (608802)

              Well, it's new jersey. I don't have any other explanation.

              All the articles about the Verizon/Netflix war of words and low performance are not about New Jersey, they're nationwide.

              That's what the news has been saying, but it just hasn't been our experience. (Caveat: The name on the box notwithstanding, Verizon no longer owns our fiber connection, so I don't know how germane our experience is.)

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                (Caveat: The name on the box notwithstanding, Verizon no longer owns our fiber connection,

                That might have something to do with it....

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        The free market has generally been fiber vs Comcast. The Comcast salescreature stops by my house about once a month trying to get me to change to them. Something to do with how many channels I'd get for a low low introductory price. I point out we haven't had cable TV, haven't for years, all we have is internet and phone, and we're thinking of dumping the land line. And he gets rude.

        We too have FiOS from Frontier nee Verizon and have had several door to door salesmen from Comcast stop by. After I point out

      • Um, I live in downtown Portland, 14 blocks from the river on a main street

        Portland is such a perfect test market, the city should charge Google just for the privalidge of using our fair city

        that's just IMHO...

        the idea that "fiber" is readily and cheaply available in Portland is incorrect...it's is *possible* but almost all residential users have ADSL through the phone line

        none of us know how much fiber Google will lay and where...how much they will charge, how much data they will scrape...

        overall, it's very

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          > almost all residential users have ADSL through the phone line

          I believe that, but I'm wondering how many of those residents have DSL only because they can't imagine what they'd use broadband for. My mother still suffers with 1 Mb/s from ATT iVerse or whatever the heck it's called, and using the internet at her house is a miserable business. But although she'll pay a hundred bucks a month for Dish TV, she won't spring for broadband because she thinks she doesn't need it. I try to convince her, get bro

          • I believe that, but I'm wondering how many of those residents have DSL only because they can't imagine what they'd use broadband for.

            virtually *none* in Portland city proper...most don't have a "TV"

            Most have ADSL and no TV cable...they watch over the air or via internet

            I'm not talking suburbs...I'm talking inner Portland

            *everyone* would get DSL or fiber **if they could afford it**

            • by roc97007 (608802)

              > *everyone* would get DSL or fiber **if they could afford it**

              I suppose, if the price is low enough. Or maybe not, if they couldn't see the value. It depends on one's value of "everyone", and "afford".

          • by Anonymous Coward

            This is really what throttling, Net Neutrality, and data caps are all about. People who've had net access since their teens* don't care about the old television service so much. They like the shows and will buy/watch them, but not the actual service. The traditional cable company model is going down the drain. Comcast and others are using their market positions to take anti-competitive actions against Netflix, who also distributes movies/television.

            It's because of this that I think Net Neutrality is a t

            • by roc97007 (608802)

              I agree on the separation of services. Back in the DSL days, you could buy DSL service from multiple providers, over the same copper wires. (And Speakeasy was consistently faster and more stable than Verizon.) I don't see why you shouldn't be able to buy from multiple ISPs over the same fiber. It's at most a matter of provisioning at the CO.

              Well, except for the political machinations.

        • I'm over in SE Portland, near Reed, and Verizon's fiber offering may be available on the west side, but it's certainly not available here.

          Over here, CenturyLink's 20Mbps DSL offering isn't even available; speeds are 1-1.5 Mbps, tops, with their service. Doesn't stop them from sending me monthly invitations to switch to them and get up to 20Mbps. You'd think that they could integrate their mailer database and their service availability database and only send offers to people who (a) can take advantage of
          • I can't wait for Google Fiber to come in. I'd switch in a heartbeat, just out of principal.

            practically unanimous across Stumptown I'd say...Centurylink's cheapest tier works fine for me but I don't do a lot of web work...will have to get bigger pipes eventually

            i honestly don't care about Google, in the end...it's about infrastructure and competition

            no matter what happens, Portland will have a decent *real* 21st century infrastructure which will allow our businesses to grow faster

            also, b/c of competition li

      • That's odd. I find the AT&T and Comcast sales people to be very polite. Perhaps it's because i'm in Texas. :-)

        I'm really hoping for Google to come and provide competition. We are currently paying $120ish for good internet and cable-- or $90 for good internet and minimal cable-- or $95 for good internet and NO cable in my city.

        I think it can be done cheaper at a profit. Comcast (CMCSA) has tripled since 2009 and on top of that they pay a dividend. They have several symbols tho (some recent). I nee

        • by roc97007 (608802)

          Eesh. $95 a month for internet? I'm paying $45 a month for fiber. Ok, you win; you really need competition.

          > That's odd. I find the AT&T and Comcast sales people to be very polite. Perhaps it's because i'm in Texas. :-)

          Don't misunderstand; I had no problems with the ATT cable modem people. It was a new technology at the time, with many tech hiccups, and ATT personnel behaved politely and competently in a stressful situation. But Comcast.. you're *lucky* if they ignore you, in a way, because then

          • by gfxguy (98788)
            I'm in GA. My choices are only AT&T and Comcast; No Verizon, and the competing cable company doesn't service my area. I pay about $80/month just for internet, no cable TV. Sadly, even if Google decides to come here, it'll both take forever and probably not reach out to the area I live in. Comcast is about 5 times faster than AT&T. I'd use AT&T anyway, but we use Netflix (which now runs great on Comcast for some strange reason), and my son is online gaming at every free moment (except right
          • You can get "bad" internet for under $30. It's faster than ISDN used to be.
            And it's not from Comcast.

      • Post some numbers. In the cities that Google fiber is located it is $70 (some with taxes and such added to that) for 1Gbps up and down. What are you paying for your fiber now and what speeds are you getting? From what I can find neither Century Link nor Frontier/Verizon offer close to that speed. Even at the speeds they say they offer per Mbps they are more.
      • by Jawnn (445279)

        So, rail against the free market if you must, but as far as I'm concerned,,, yeah, I'm good.

        Hooray for you. Setting aside, for now, the ridiculously loose definitions of "fiber" being used by the LEC's, your experience is unlike that of the vast majority of ISP customers in the U.S. And if you think that your ISP isn't mining the data that your activity is generating for all it's worth, you are not paying attention.

      • I'm in Portland, and shopping for FTTH. Who's your provider? What neighborhood are you in?
      • by mcrbids (148650)

        BTW: I'm a Comcast Internet-only customer. I ditched our AT&T landline years ago and replaced it with a MagicJack for $20/year/unlimited.

        I get about 20 Mbit for $65/month. I'd pay $100 for Gb fiber in a flat second.

    • by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:02PM (#47224323)

      The line "incumbent Telco's are fuming" means this is probably a very good thing for consumers. That's the litmus test. if something bothers the existing market makers/leaders, it's almost definitely in the consumer's best interest :(

      • The line "incumbent Telco's are fuming" means this is probably a very good thing for consumers. That's the litmus test. if something bothers the existing market makers/leaders, it's almost definitely in the consumer's best interest :(

        QFT.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      You were forced by legislation to provide connectivity to many places where it was unprofitable, so you lose to cherry pickers like Google. Now STFU.

      FTFY.

      • by thaylin (555395)
        What legislation forced the ISPs to connect to the unprofitable areas, without compensation that was vastly more than the cost. Shoot I would just like to know the legislation that forced this at all....
        • by jeffmeden (135043)

          What legislation forced the ISPs to connect to the unprofitable areas, without compensation that was vastly more than the cost. Shoot I would just like to know the legislation that forced this at all....

          Ah but the assertion was not about ISPs at all, was it? Try reading.

          • by thaylin (555395)
            Seeing how we are talking about ISPs. He said the word telco, but in this instance it was obvious that he meant ISP, since that is what this entire thing is talking about....
        • there is a link to get your data out of the house. and then there is an ISP at the other end of the link to get your data on and off the internet.

          links don't care about physical media. you can use fiber, twisted pair, coax, wifi, top two wires of a fence, whatever. some are better than others in a specific physical area.

          some ISPs are crap, and some are not, also. if they can handle the bandwidth, don't treat you like a captive, and have support inside and out 24x7, ISPs can be interchangeable. but usua

  • Hope this helps them bring in business. That would make it harder for less equipped municipalities to compete. And force them to improve their connections.
    • It's going to take a lot more than a fiber service to help Portland bring in business.

      The first step is to fire all the meddling council members that have their own pet agendas and screw any business that wants to locate in the city. See: Columbia Sportswear moving their headquarters from inside Portland to the suburbs after the City jerked them around over a piece of property they wanted to buy right on the river. See: exactly zero Fortune-500 companies headquartered in the City (Nike doesn't count - t

      • by thaylin (555395)
        What obstacles were put in front of them? I see lots of people saying that, but no one ever states what those obstacles were. Some obstacles are good, some are bad, so just from that statement we cannot know anything about your statement.
        • Here's a recap of the Columbia situation: http://blog.oregonlive.com/por... [oregonlive.com]

          There was a more exhaustive article in Willamette Week a few years back, but their website search sucks.

          • by thaylin (555395)
            The article only says they were outbid and then wanted to buy what was planed to be a site for a light rail. That does not seem like the city throwing up obstacles, it seems like a company wanting preferential treatment.
      • See: exactly zero Fortune-500 companies headquartered in the City

        You say this like it's a bad thing.

        Steve

      • I'm in Portland, and my small business is growing. There has been no red tape that I've noticed. There has been a few small fees for registering, some basic common sense rules... What in specific are you complaining about? I realize that my small business is mostly under the radar, and perhaps you're talking about a mid sized or large business.... But this is the city where everyone's uncle starts a food cart. It's not hard to start a business here.

        Please provide specifics.

        • Fred Meyer wanted to lease out unused space on their campus to a prospective company looking to open a call center in Southeast Portland (22nd and Powell) and the City wanted them to pay to install a traffic light and rebuild the intersection at 22nd to handle the "increased traffic." However, the anticipated traffic was still going to be less than it was 10 years ago when Fred Meyer was owned by an equity management firm and not a division of Kroger. So, kiss those added jobs and economic development goo

  • Lay dark fiber (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NotDrWho (3543773) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:28PM (#47224073)

    If you want Google fiber in your town, you need to convince your city to lay its own dark fiber as much as possible. Google has thus far went to the cities with the most existing dark fiber already in place.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Salt Lake City (the city, not the metro area) has almost no dark fiber (the only reason I saw almost and not none is I can't be sure there's no link between the jail and the city building) installed and was chosen. Almost every mile of fiber that is government owned in the entire county is owned by UDOT and is used for traffic management and absolutely not leased, sold or used by anyone else with the small exception that they've allowed several of the cities to hook into the network to gain control over the

      • by NotDrWho (3543773)

        Here's a map [zayo.com].

      • Salt Lake CIty has some other things going for it, like being right next to Utopia [utopianet.org] cities and being close to Google Fiber's existing network in Provo. Google already interconnects with Utopia so it would probably not require as much infrastructure for Google to deploy in Salt Lake as it would in other cities.

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:28PM (#47224077)

    1. The "Fiberhoods" are really key here. Google's getting official authorization to deploy only in neighborhoods where it makes economic sense, and not being required to build out through the whole city.
    2. It's by no means certain that Google will deploy at all: "This franchise agreement is an important step along the path to Fiber, so it’s great that it’s been approved. There’s still a lot of work to do beyond this one agreement, but we hope to provide an update about whether we can bring Fiber here later this year,” said Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres in an email.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      This is one of the big lies the incumbents have been telling. Google has made no installation decisions based on economic return or economic capability. The fiberhood voting process includes the free internet service which likely costs Google money to provide and doesn't provide favorability ratings for those willing to pay for gigabit over the free version. The only requirement is that people sign up for the service (and it can be the free service they intend to sign up for).

      The incumbents call this cherry

      • This is one of the big lies the incumbents have been telling. Google has made no installation decisions based on economic return or economic capability. ... The only requirement is that people sign up for the service (and it can be the free service they intend to sign up for.

        1. FYI, the free service requires a $300 installation payment (or $25/month for a year), so it's not truly free. Those free customers will offset nearly half of the cost of passing them with the fiber.
        2. They certainly ARE making the prioritization decisions based (at least in part) on economic return. The neighborhoods with higher committed take rates (whether for a monthly service or the upfront $300 only) are getting service, while those with low committed take rates aren't getting service (because the

        • . Also, if you look at the franchise agreement being discussed for Portland, it doesn't include the requirement (which is pretty much standard in cable franchises) that the franchisee serve 100%, or close to 100%, of homes in the municipality by X years after deployment starts. Google has made it very clear that, if they face that kind of franchise requirement, they'll move on to another market.

          One additional note - looking at the doc, this ISN'T a cable franchise - Google won't be offering cable TV service (as they do in Kansas City). As a result, they avoid the buildout requirements that would come with a cable franchise agreement.

        • by rahvin112 (446269)

          1. The $300 installation fee, as you noted available to be paid in 1 year of monthly $25 payments doesn't even cover 10% of the cost of the ONT let alone the cost to install. And that $25 fee (and it's only for a year then free afterwards) is cheaper than every other incumbents cheapest plan and they only pay for 12months and Google commits to 5 years of free service, an amortized fee that's less than $5 a month!

          2. They are NOT making prioritization decisions on economic return, they are making them on subs

  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by ovidus naso (20325) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:34PM (#47224129)
    Keep Portland Wired
  • Portland is full of malcontents.

    Come to the West side (Washington County). We're all techy and techy corps own the politicians.

    • From what I've read, Tigard, Beaverton, and Hillsboro are all in consideration. Not every neighborhood in every town. My house is not far from Ronler Acres (massive Intel plant) and across the street from an office park, so hopefully I'll be in luck.

      I'd love to have another alternative to Comcast.

      • >My house is not far from Ronler Acres (massive Intel plant) and across the street from an office park,
        Er. Me too.

        >I'd love to have another alternative to Comcast.
        Frontier Fios doesn't go there?

        • Yeah, I live very close to RA and we have Frontier FiOS. $105/month for symmetrical 35 Mb/s business class fiber with a static IP. We've never had any issues with speed or Frontier (or Verizon FiOS before them). It makes me feel for everyone stuck on Comcast or dial-up, but 3 of our last 4 residences in the Portland metro area all had fiber, so I'm not sure where in Portland people are living that doesn't have fiber. Did Verizon only run it to the suburbs and skip downtown?

          • Certain local governments did a deal with the devil, agreeing to let Verizon skip their common carrier requirements in return for which Verizon would install FTTH. So Verizon could cut the local ISPs out of the loop.

            On DSL I paid the phone company for moving the bits (frame relay style) to the ISP and the mom-and-pop ISP for doing what ISP do. The ISP (dsl-only) was excellent in many ways.

            This arrangement would have remained except Verizon wriggled out of it, so they can pull the crap they pull today, holdi

          • I've had no issues except for the DNS which for which the donkey balls are well sucked.
            8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4 and you're golden

  • Can a city decide to advance at its own pace or is it slowed down by the slowest and weakest points in it's network?
    I wouldn't mind seeing competition in this city as long as the old stuff such as buffer bloat and privacy violations are taken care of at the same time. The Peering proposed by Bob Cringely is the right solution. http://www.cringely.com/2014/05/06/14890/ [cringely.com]

  • Have there been any studies on the impact of Google Fiber on property values? There were articles conjecturing [sarahsnodgrass.com] in 2012 that property values would go up, but I don't know if there was any follow-up to see if it happened.

    • by swb (14022) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @04:27PM (#47224907)

      That reminds me of my house hunting back in 1998 when I'd have my wife distract the real estate agent while I made a surreptitious call to our apartment so I could capture the house's phone number on caller id and check online to see if they had DSL available there.

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @02:53PM (#47224251) Journal

    It's important to note, Qwest and Verizon (later Frontier) have been offering fiber to the house for years in the Portland metropolitan area. My understanding is that the lack of rapid growth of the network(s) is not a matter of the telcos not wanting to expand, but a matter of the local municipalities making expansion too difficult. Perhaps Google has discovered, not new ways to provide fiber to the home, but new ways to grease the political wheels.

    • by MAXOMENOS (9802)
      While true, Verizon doesn't come to all neighborhoods - and there's no way I'm doing business with Comcast.
      • by roc97007 (608802)

        While true, Verizon doesn't come to all neighborhoods - and there's no way I'm doing business with Comcast.

        I heartily support that.

      • by NoKaOi (1415755)

        While true, Verizon doesn't come to all neighborhoods - and there's no way I'm doing business with Comcast.

        So, if only Comcast were available (as it is to many people in certain areas), would you use dial-up instead?

    • In solving mysteries, always watch where the money flows
  • by nairnr (314138) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:32PM (#47224527)
    You certainly can't complain about competition if you are unwilling to invest yourself. IF they were getting a special arrangement then the existing ISPs might have something to complain about, but they don't. Just because you are an existing player doesn't mean you get state sponsored protection...
    • by NoKaOi (1415755)

      Just because you are an existing player doesn't mean you get state sponsored protection...

      It does if you have enough money to spend on lobbying and brib^H^H^H^H campaign contributions.

  • by Gothmolly (148874) on Thursday June 12, 2014 @03:52PM (#47224669)

    Now that > 50% of the population lives in cities, the other 49% are learning just how awesome democracy is.

  • "pointed out that Google is prepared to make a major investment in the city's infrastructure, while the other firms are not"

    Correction: "While the other firms had absolutely no intention to until Google came along."

  • UTOPIA Fiber (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I am fortunate (or unfortunate) to live in one of those small towns in Utah that signed up for UTOPIA municipal fiber. It was a long journey with Comcrap and Centurylink + lobbyists pulling all the gimmicks to prevent its rollout. UTOPIA has had its share of political problems, but those aside. I get to choose my ISP, I chose XMission a SLC based company. And for $35/month I get 100mbps up & down. So right now I'm not complaining.

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