Google Broadband Lures 1,100 Communities, 194,000 Individuals
Google's offer to test ultra-fast broadband access in U.S. communities drew responses from more than 1,100 communities and 194,000 individuals, who showed significant interest in receiving free Internet access at 1G bps.
Google, which began soliciting towns and cities to test broadband networks for 50,000 to 500,000 users last month, set a deadline of March 26 for interested communities to submit their proposals to receive Internet access at more than 100 times the current speeds provided by Internet service providers.
The deadline passed, and the applications are in. Google is pleased with the results and offered this no-frills map of where the responses were concentrated. Each small dot represents a government response. The large dots represent locations where more than 1,000 residents submitted a nomination.
Google Product Manager James Kelly noted: "We've seen cities rename themselves, great YouTube videos, public rallies and hundreds of grassroots Facebook groups come to life, all with the goal of bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities."
Indeed, representatives from municipalities all over the United States got quite creative lobbying to be Google's guinea-pigs-in-fiber.
Sarasota, Fla., temporarily renamed City Island "Google Island," with Sarasota Mayor Richard Clapp jumping into a shark tank to show his dedication for the cause. In Duluth, Minn., Mayor Don Ness jumped into Lake Superior. Minnesota Sen. Al Franken joined Ness in spirit, if not in the freezing water.
To what end? Kelly said Google will spend months reviewing the applications.
This will include conducting site visits, meeting with local officials and consulting with third-party organizations to determine where to build out their fiber to homes. The company will announce its target community (or communities) before the year's end.
The bidding closure comes a week after the Federal Communications Commission unveiled its National Broadband Plan, a 10-year effort to provide 1G-bps broadband access to 100 million household in the United States, among other things.
That would dovetail well with Google's current fiber plans, which are designed to accelerate the rate at which content travels to users' computers.
Google's contention has always been that speedier data access will result in more frequent access of Web applications such as its YouTube video-sharing site, which is seeing 24 hours of video clips poured into it per minute.
Google eventually hopes to extend YouTube, search and other Web apps from personal computers to consumers' televisions through the Google TV project. The end goal is increasing apps usage, thereby showing users more digital advertising.
Testing high-speed broadband networks is one way to facilitate this new model, possibly prompting ISPs who feel compelled to match Google's efforts or risk being left behind.