KC Startups, Supporters Embrace Google Fiber Expansion

Google's Kevin Lo spoke at an April event to mark Google Fiber's expansion to Provo, Utah. | Photo courtesy of Google
Google's Kevin Lo spoke at an April event to mark Google Fiber's expansion to Provo, Utah. | Photo courtesy of Google

Soon, Kansas City won’t be the only city with Google Fiber connectivity. Provo, Utah, will join the Fiber-connected ranks later this year, and Austin, Texas, will have the Internet service by mid-2014, according to Google Fiber’s website.

Since last fall when the first homes in Kansas City were connected to Fiber, entrepreneurs from the Kansas City area and all over the country have relocated to take advantage of Google’s Internet service, which offers speeds as fast as 1 gigabit per second, or about 100 times the average broadband connection. In the Hanover Heights/Spring Valley neighborhood of Kansas City, Kan., which was the first neighborhood to receive Fiber service, Kansas City Startup Village (KCSV) took shape.

Laura Lorek, founder of SiliconHillsNews.com
Laura Lorek

KCSV is both a physical group of Fiber-connected houses and a grassroots initiative to bolster the city’s prominence as a destination for entrepreneurs. Per KCSV’s website, two dozen startups and related organizations have called the neighborhood home since KCSV was formally established.

Laura Lorek, who covers technology news in Austin and San Antonio as founder of Silicon Hills News, predicts a similar influx of Fiber-related investment and ideas into Austin, a noted tech hub before the Fiber announcement. Provo Mayor John Curtis has touted the economic benefits he hopes Fiber will bring to his city.

Although Kansas City may soon face competition from the other cities as they look to lure entrepreneurs with Google’s ultra-high-speed Internet, many of the key players in KCSV see no downside to that.

“Honestly, I think that it’ll increase collaboration between the new cities, and it really hasn’t slowed anything down here in KC,” said Adam Arredondo, the CEO of startup Local Ruckus and one of the organizers of KCSV. “Plus, entrepreneurs in every city with Fiber are going to be using it to make our lives better, so it’s a good thing for it to be expanding.”

Adam Arredondo, CEO of Local Ruckus in Kansas City
Adam Arredondo

Boulder, Colo.-based entrepreneur and investor Brad Feld, who bought a house in KCSV for entrepreneurs to live in rent-free, shares Arredondo’s big-picture view on the spread of Google Fiber. “I doubt it’ll have a dramatic impact in the short term, and in 10 years this will no longer be an advantage anywhere since fiber will be much more pervasive,” Feld said in an email.

Google spokesperson Jenna Wandres stressed that the company has not taken any focus off of Kansas City as a result of Fiber’s expansion to other cities. “We are still on the ground in Kansas City talking to entrepreneurs about their plans,” she said. “By the time we’re finished, 89 percent of Kansas City will be eligible for Fiber.” If anything, Wandres said, the expansion of Google’s Internet service will help users in Kansas City connect to new and different Fiber users.

Arredondo agreed. “Google Fiber fires up the imagination as to what is possible,” he said. “The more people that have this resource, the more collaboration we can have and the more practical “gig-to-gig” connections become. Plus, this lights a fire under everyone here in KC to make the most out of this.”

Aaron Deacon is the managing director of KC Digital Drive, another community-driven effort that’s looking to help Kansas City capitalize on Google Fiber. He, too, sees the expansion of Fiber as a positive development. “In short,” Deacon said in an email, “I think it’s great.”

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