Google’s much anticipated announcement about how it plans to connect residents of Kansas City to its ultra-high speed fiber network has helped diffuse some speculation. In March 2011, the company publicized its intention to develop 1 GB fiber connectivity in the Kansas City area, much to the chagrin of the more than 1,100 other cities that competed for the distinction.
Company officials estimate that connection speeds enabled by the new network will be 100 times faster than what is currently available in most U.S. communities.
Google Vice President of Access Services Milo Medin explained that the area’s well developed infrastructure was a factor in its selection, along with the potential to impact the region’s economy and the strong support from local government officials and community institutions.
In a recent blog post, Medin explained that the time has come for this kind of ultra-fast fiber network. "Access speeds have simply not kept pace with the phenomenal increases in computing power and storage capacity that's spurred innovation over the last decade," he said.
Officials in Kansas City are also enthusiastic about the potential for this fiber network to spark economic development and innovation in a variety of sectors.
At a company announcement in Kansas City on July 26, Google representatives laid out their plans to get into the television business in Kansas City, where residents who sign on will be able to access exclusive local content, along with tens of thousands of shows available on demand.
Google will offer three different ways for residents to tap into its network. A one-time construction fee of $300 will get users 5 MB Internet access from Google. But users need an upgraded plan in order to access the full GB of fiber connectivity, which is offered for $70 per month (construction fee is waived with this plan).
For $120 per month (and a two-year contract), Kansas Citians can take advantage of what the company bills as its “full Google experience”, with GB fiber connectivity, and Google TV, featuring a complete lineup of channels, a 1 terabyte storage drive, a network box, TV box and a Nexus 7 tablet to serve as a remove control.
According to today’s news conference, residents interested should visit the Google fiber website and indicate interest by paying a $10 registration fee. Public officials, including Kansas City Mayors Joe Reardon (Kan.) and Sly James (Mo.), are encouraging residents to sign on during the six-week rally period, which ends Sept. 9. Neighborhoods that generate a significant groundswell of interest will get first priority from Google when it comes time to connect.
Public facilities will also benefit from the creation of these “fiberhoods.” Residential communities established as fiberhoods will have their ultra fast connections extended to public buildings in the area. Schools, libraries, government buildings and public safety facilities will benefit from the network by receiving free gigabit Internet connectivity.
Government Technology editor Noelle Knell has more than 15 years of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.