Google hearts Kansas.
The search-engine giant announced May 2 that Shawnee, Kansas will become the next city to receive Google Fiber. Google already has plans to install the high-speed broadband network in nearby Kansas City and Olathe, Kansas.
“We’ve also been impressed by Shawnee’s vision to keep their citizens informed and involved using the Internet,” Google wrote in a posting on the Google Fiber blog. “Recently, the City modernized their Website, so that locals can easily access city info—from crime maps to fiscal reports to streamed audio of city council meetings.” Google didn’t offer a timeline for when the service would actually reach Shawnee, claiming that it has “a lot of planning and engineering work to do” beforehand.
Google is also bringing Google Fiber to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. The company remains opaque about how it actually chooses Fiber recipients; during an earnings call in January, CEO Larry Page told analysts and media that the program was still “in the early stages” and that “we are going to a small number of people.”
However far Google decides to expand the program, it’s already forced other infrastructure providers to react. Within hours of Google announcing that Austin would receive Fiber, AT&T released a statement indicating that it was willing to build a high-speed broadband network in that city—provided the municipal government gave it the same conditions enjoyed by Google.
Google argues that Google Fiber will benefit consumers and businesses alike. “Gigabit speeds will get rid of these pesky, archaic problems and open up new opportunities for the Web,” read a note posted on the Google Fiber Blog last summer. “Imagine: instantaneous sharing; truly global education; medical appointments with 3D imaging; even new industries that we haven’t even dreamed of, powered by a gig.”
By expanding through Kansas City one neighborhood at a time, and introducing Fiber to smaller towns such as Provo and Shawnee, Google can figure out how to best roll out a broadband network. “We are going to continue to look at the possibility of expanding,” Google CFO Patrick Pichette said on that same January earnings call, “but right now we just got to nail because we are in the early days. We just got to nail Kansas City.”
If Google does figure out those best practices, it’s likely that Google Fiber will soon appear in larger cities. That’s good for businesses that need a big pipeline for data, as well as consumers who want faster downloads—but most of all, it’d be good for Google, which can profit from serving more ads to speedier Web connections (not to mention the increased amount of time people tend to spend in front of a screen when their online services are faster). What, you didn’t think the company was doing this for purely altruistic reasons, did you?