Google, You Tease. KC Still In the Dark on Fiber Optic Network

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After months of rumors, excitement, speculation and general hubbub, Google officials still won’t say when the ultra high speed network will be available to residents, or in what order Kansas City neighborhoods will get to hook up to Google Fiber.

The 1 gigabit network, which Google anticipates will be 100 times faster than the typical American Internet connection today, is the first of its kind in the nation.

“This is the first time that we’ve built a network on this scale. We’re still learning a lot every day,” said Jenna Wandres, a public policy spokesperson for Google.

Wandres said Kansas City appealed to Google in part because its telecommunications infrastructure. She wouldn’t say when Google would go live with the new network, nor whether there is any truth to the speculation that Google Fiber might offer Internet television to subscribers, or if the network may one day provide smart grid capabilities.

She wouldn’t say much at all, actually. Only that workers are busy climbing utility poles and digging trenches to build the network’s backbone through the city.

At some point during the summer Google will announce when the network will be available. Though no homes or businesses are hooked up yet, Kansas Citians have already been working on ideas to make use of the  speeds that Google Fiber promises.

The Mayors’ Bistate Innovation Team created by the mayors of Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo, has been generatating ideas to help the city capitalize on the high speed network. Last month, the team released its “playbook” for the post-Google Fiber era. The playbook outlines how the city might use the network to enhance neighborhoods, education, health care, government and the arts in the Kansas City area.

Wandres hopes that some of the best ideas that will come out of the network’s deployment in the city haven’t even been thought of yet. “The apps of the future,” she called them.

She said the company is also excited about the network’s potential to have an impact on education—for instance, by allowing students to telecommute into the classroom when sick—as well as local economic development.

What exactly the Google Fiber network can do for Kansas City remains to be seen. Wandres said that the partnership between the corporate giant and the dual cities has already been a positive one for Googlee.

“Government in Kansas City is fabulous,” she said. “Both mayors have made it easy to work there.”

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