Google To Launch 1-Gbps Fiber Broadband Service In Kansas City

Service Planned for 2012 Pending Approval by City's Board of Commissioners

Google selected Kansas City, Kan., as the first community for the launch of an experimental fiber network that would provide 1 Gigabit per second broadband access speeds, which is about 100 times faster than the broadband speeds more Americans have.

The decision follows a February 2010 announcement by Google that it was looking for a city where it could launch 1 Gbps broadband service over a fiber network. Google had planned to pick a community by the end of 2010 but delayed the decision after more than 1,100 cities applied to be the first site for the service.

Google has already signed a development agreement with Kansas City and hopes to launch the service in 2012, if the project is approved by the city's Board of Commissioners.

Google was vague in describing its criteria for picking Kansas City, though the community's educational, cultural and business institutions combined with its relatively modest size, about 150,000 people, may have made it more appealing in terms of capital costs than larger metropolitan areas.

"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," Google vice president of access services Milo Medin wrote in a corporate blog. "We've found this in Kansas City. We'll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future."

In a promotional video announcing the selection, Medin stressed that the ultra-high-speed network would help speed innovation and encourage companies to create new products. "The communication network is the thing that is falling behind the in the speed of innovation," he argued. "What we are trying to do with this effort is get people from 1 Mbps web to 1 Gbps web."

"The lack of bandwidth and not enough access is evident in all kinds of places today," added Kansas City mayor Joe Reardon in a YouTube video. "We don't know where it may lead but we know it has a huge potential."

The high-speed network would allow companies to deliver much more video over an IP connection. But it isn't clear how that potential might be turned into viable business models that would allow Google to get a return on their investment in a massive fiber rollout.