Google is expected to reveal details about the gigabit fiber network the company is building in Kansas City, in an online announcement slated for Thursday, July 26. A special page at google.com/fiber now displays a mailing list sign-up form and the page will soon host an announcement.

A gigabit network offers connection speeds that are roughly 100 to 200 times faster than what's available on average in the U.S. today.

The network is expected to be built out on both sides of the metro area — Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo.

First announced in early 2010, Google’s plan was to find a place where the company could make a big impact.

“In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations,” according to the official Google blog. Out of 1,100 cities that applied, Kansas City was selected by Google in March 2011.

Google will offer Internet service to the region using the network, a potential user-base of 500,000, which Google hopes will spur innovation and create transparency.

Google’s long-term plans for the Kansas City network are the subject of much speculation. Some say Google plans to compete with big Internet service providers, expanding into other cities. Some evidence points to Google offering TV service via the fiber network. Another theory, which cites Google’s knack for innovation, says Google may partner with local utilities to push smart energy applications, ultimately saving itself money that can be put back into broadband. Whatever ends up happening, a lot of people will be watching closely.

Before Kansas City was announced as the site of Google’s network, cities around the country pulled publicity stunts hoping to catch Google's attention. Perhaps most famously, Topeka, Kan., briefly changed its name to Google.

It’s unknown what Google will announce Thursday. The Kansas City Star reported last week that fiber-to-the-home connections haven’t been seen yet, although for months a contractor has been spotted laying down wire on city streets in both Kansas and Missouri.

Colin Wood  |  Staff Writer

Colin has been writing for Government Technology since 2010. He lives in Seattle with his wife and their dog. He can be reached at cwood@govtech.com