Google, which fielded responses from close to 1,100 cities, said it has inked a development deal 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." It's already identified some local organizations that will help develop "gigabit applications of the future," including the Kaufmann Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center.
At a local event held soon after the announcement, Google said it picked Kansas City in part because its existing infrastructure would allow it to get its fiber project up and running fairly quickly. It also talked up the effect the project could have on the area's economic development and that the city's community stakeholders would be heavily engaged on the project.
Google still needs the okay from the city's board of commissioners, but it plans to light up service sometime in 2012.
Google announced the plan last year, noting that its resulting "open" network would serve at least 50,000, and up to as many as 500,00 users. It's not saying how many users it anticipates connecting to the new net, or how much it will cost to build.
Regardless, this fiber contest of sorts did cause cities and towns across the country to come down with a case of Googlemania. Topeka, Kan., went so far as to offer jokingly to change its name to Google, Kan., for a month. Songs were written in Google's honor. There was even a list made of the top five worst Google fiber pitches.
Why this matters
Well, it's Google. Plus, the project is coming into play as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tries to move ahead on its ambitious National Broadband Plan. And Google's project may cause some to question some of the benchmarks set by that plan. (See FCC Boots Up National Broadband Plan , FCC: Broadband Starts at 4 Mbit/s , FCC: 'Broadband' Is Scarce and FCC Chair Sets 2020 Broadband Vision .)
"On the national level, this announcement will throw some light and questions on the National Broadband Plan because, in my opinion, the National Broadband Plan shoots too low on its objectives," says Craig Settles, an industry analyst and co-founder of the Communities United for Broadband, a group put together in response to the Google fiber project. "It will put some pressure on folks to reassess their views in terms of where this national strategy is going."
He also believes that Google's selection could re-energize the broadband efforts of other cities and towns that didn't win this round. "The engines are going to get revved up big time," he said.
Google hasn't made any firm additional FTTP commitments, but did note in its blog that it will be "looking closely at ways to bring ultra high-speed Internet to other cities across the country."
In the service provider world, there's been some concern that Google's speedy fiber project could cause some angst and put additional speed pressure on incumbent providers. Google's fiber pick is in Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) U-verse country.
For a look at how Google's project progressed from its original announcement to today's selection, check out:
- Google Jumps Into Gigabit FTTH
- Google Delays Fiber Picks
- Google's Gigabit Fiber Fantasy
- My Town Wants Google 1-Gig!
- Google's Pointy Stick