GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- The city of Grand Rapids isapplying to be a test market for the Google Fiber experimentalInternet service, which promises speeds 100 times greater "thanwhat most Americans have access to today."
"How could we pass up an opportunity like this?" said PaulKlimas, the city information technology director.
The ultra-fastservice would benefit consumers, Klimas said Thursday, but alsoschools, government and business, including Grand Rapids' growingmedical and life sciences sector.
The only cost to the city would be the time it takes to assemblethe application, Klimas said, which uses data the city already hasgathered for its participation in a wireless Internet technologydubbed WiMAX. Legal battles between the corporations involved haveended, paving the way for that project to continue, Klimas said,although no timeline is in place.
"Between the two of them (Google and WiMAX), we should really bea hotbed of Internet connectivity in the nation," he told 24 HourNews 8.
Google is looking for demographics and other information aboutthe city, including details such as what company controls utilitypoles. Communities have until March 26 to file a "request forinformation" with the California technology giant, which will beused "to determine where to build our network."
Grand Rapids' application would be bolstered by communitysupport, said Klimas and a Google representative, and some in theregion already are stepping up.
A Facebook page dubbed
Douglas Lang of the recently founded Grand RapidsTechnology Partnership wants residents to bolster the city'sapplication by going to the project's Web site, clicking 'getinvolved' and nominating Grand Rapids.
"We can be the biggest cheerleaders for our city and for what wewant to see from Google," Lang told 24 Hour News 8.
The service could allow users to "download an entire DVD ofcontent in four minutes," he said. "The speed is amazing."
And with regular online video viewing, the experience would bemuch more like TV, Lang said. When you click on a stream, you'd seethe content instantly.
Google promises the service will be cost-competitive.
So, will Grand Rapids be selected?
Aside from community support, Google is looking at other localfactors that will "impact the efficiency and speed of ourdeployment," said Minne Ingersoll, a Google alternative access teamproduct manager.
Those include "local resources, weather conditions, approvedconstruction methods and local regulatory issues. We will also takeinto account broadband availability and speeds that are alreadyoffered to users within a community," she told 24 Hour News 8 in astatement.
The technology firm already has an office in Ann Arbor.
And the region's burgeoning medical-life sciences could draw thecompany's attention.
Klimas said he felt the city is the ideal size for Google.
"We're not too big, we're not too small," he said. The project'spage states the firm will initially offer the service to between50,000 and 500,000 people.
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