Carson competes for Google high-speed network | NevadaAppeal.com

Carson competes for Google high-speed network

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com

Whether it would be used for streaming 3-D medical images across the country or downloading a high-definition movie in minutes, search engine giant Google says it wants to expand ultra-high speed Internet to communities around the nation.

And Carson City officials say they want Nevada’s capital to be among them.

Over the next month, city officials and the Office of Business Development will be drafting an application to give Carson City the chance to participate in Google’s experimental high speed fiber optic network, which the company said will reach 50,000 to 500,000 people.

But competition will be stiff.

Topeka, Kan., informally renamed itself “Google, Kansas,” for the month of March. A group in Baltimore launched a Web site that uses Google mapping to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and gives their reasons for wanting the service. Other cities in pursuit include Cincinnati; Portland, Ore.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rochester, N.Y.; and Baton Rouge, La. More than 200 groups on Facebook are pushing different cities and counties for Google’s broadband plan.

The mayor of Duluth, Minn., Don Ness, even posted a video to YouTube of him jumping into Lake Superior: “All right, you other mayors! You want Google Fiber, you jump in Lake Superior!”

Mayor Bob Crowell said Carson City’s advantage is being home to Nevada’s state government.

John Wilkinson, the city information systems director, said the fiber optic network would work well with the proposed $87 million Carson Nugget redevelopment project, which includes a digital media lab and library.

“The lifestyle here is appealing to the types of folks who would want to work remotely, plus the Nugget project,” Wilkinson said. “They’re talking about doing some digital media lab work, this is the kind of stuff that would make it a lot easier and make it practical.”

Members of the Gi Collaboration, a group of engineers and scientists living in Carson City, are also pushing for Carson City to get the nod.

The network would bring fiber optic cables directly to homes and businesses, replacing copper wires currently used for most broadband Internet services. Using fiber optic wire would be more than 100 times faster than DSL or cable Internet connections.

“People are hungry for faster speeds and improved Internet access,” Google spokesman Dan Martin said.

Google has set a March 26 deadline for city governments and citizens to express interest, and Google plans to announce winners by the end of the year. Martin said Google can’t say when it will start building the new networks but hopes to start soon.

Google’s experimental fiber-optic networks would be roughly 50 to 300 times faster than the DSL, cable and fiber-optic networks that connect most U.S. homes to the Internet today. Google has not said how many cities it intends to serve, or how much it is willing to spend to do it.

Google says it’s not interested in dominating or even grabbing a sizable chunk of the broadband market. Instead it says it hopes phone and cable companies will learn lessons from the experimental network that will help them hurry the rollout of their own faster systems. It also hopes to provide a testbed for online video and other advanced applications that require a lot of bandwidth.

“Google makes more money the more eyeballs are online,” said Sascha Meinrath, director of the nonpartisan New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative.

In choosing sites, Google is looking for wide community support and readiness, said Meinrath. Google doesn’t want to spend time dealing with right-of-way issues or objections from neighborhoods that aren’t crazy about having Google tear up streets to install its network.

• Associated Press writer Briana Bierschbach contributed to this report.