And the Winner Is …

March 30, 2011

A little over a year ago, I wrote about Google’s proposed high-speed Internet access experiment, in which the company planned to select a city/community in the US in which it would install a 1 Gbps fiber network infrastructure.   This stimulated a “beauty contest” among the candidates, which I have written about before.   The selected community was originally supposed to be announced by the end of 2010; but, as I noted in December of last year, Google felt that it should take some extra time for the decision, owing to the very high level of interest: more than 1000 communities applied.

According to an announcement on the Official Google Blog, a winner has now been selected: Kansas City, Kansas.  (For readers outside the US, this is not quite as redundant as New York, New York.  There are two cities called Kansas City: one, the winner, in Kansas, the other in Missouri, on the opposite side, just across, the Missouri River.)

After a careful review, today we’re very happy to announce that we will build our ultra high-speed network in Kansas City, Kansas. We’ve signed a development agreement with the city, and we’ll be working closely with local organizations, businesses and universities to bring a next-generation web experience to the community.

In a way, this is an inspired choice.  If one wished to select a quintessential mid-American city, it would be hard to top one of the Kansas Cities. (Disclaimer: a significant part of my extended family came from within ~200 miles of Kansas City.)   It has always been a solid, decent, comfortable, mainstream USA kind of place.   At the same time, as far as I know, the area is not a hot-bed of new ventures; perhaps Google’s initiative will spark some new enterprises.

Slashdot noted this development, with an amusing bit of (apparent) geographic confusion:

The city of Topeka had actually temporarily renamed itself Google, Kansas, the capital city of fiber optics, in a move to get Google to lay fiber there. It seems to have worked, because a deal has just been signed to roll out fiber in the city, which should be available to everyone in the area by 2012.”

(I wrote about Google, Kansas, here.)  Topeka is ~45 miles away from Kansas City; it has no other connection to Kansas City, other than being in the same state, as far as I know.

I will be most interested to see how this works out.

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