Breaking news: Google just announced that it will build an experimental next-generation, high-speed fiber optic network in Kansas City, Kansas. Kansas City beat out more than 1,100 other communities across the United States, including Baltimore and several Maryland municipalities.
Here's the official Google announcement.
Baltimore technology enthusiasts months ago rallied online -- in an effort dubbed BmoreFiber -- to persuade city officials to get behind the idea to submit a proposal to Google, using the effort as a rallying cry to call attention to the city's technology infrastructure. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other city and business stakeholders supported the effort and touted Baltimore's medical, technological and infrastructure capacities to Google. Mayor Rawlings-Blake named Tom Loveland, CEO of Mind Over Machines and an influential player within the state's tech community, as Baltimore's "Google Czar."
"With Google Fiber, Baltimore will change the world," the BmoreFiber.com website reads.
The Google Fiber plan calls for delivering 1 gigabit download streaming to connected homes -- roughly 100 times faster than current average download connections for most Internet users. Supporters of such ultra-high-speed bandwidth say that enabling that kind of connectivity will create and enable new business models and help generate advances in everything from telemedicine to entertainment.
Stay tuned. More to come on this ....
UPDATE:Not all hope is lost. Google cofounder Sergey Brin seemed to indicate in the video below that the Kansas City roll-out is only the beginning, implying that it may roll out Google Fiber to other communities. This leaves some wiggle room of hope for Baltimore in the future.
I sought comments from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Dave Troy, who helped organize the Bmore Fiber grassroots effort and is a volunteer on the city's new Broadband Task Force formed by the mayor:
From Mayor Rawlings-Blake's spokesman: This was probably the most competitive process among American cities in modern history and it was great for Baltimore to be a part of it. It started the discussion on what we can do to improve broadband access and reduce the digital divide in Baltimore. As a result of the Google process, the Mayor Rawlings-Blake created a broadband task force to identify opportunities to increase access to ultra high-speed internet. Mayor Rawlings-Blake named Tom Loveland, CEO of Mind Over Machines, and Donald Fry, Greater Baltimore Committee President and CEO, to lead the effort as co-chairs of the task force. The Mayor is also pleased that internet infrastructure companies and wireless broadband providers are continuing to expand and improve their networks in Baltimore.
From Dave Troy: From my perspective I think it was a fair competition with 1,100 players. We had no strong sense of what sort of municipality they might favor – word was that a city nearby to them might be the first choice, like Palo Alto – so the fact that they chose a city that resembles Baltimore bodes well for us going forward.
Sergey Brin is quoted as saying that they are "starting with Kansas City," so if they pursue other cities of similar sizes, I'd say Baltimore continues to fare very well on that list. So I am disappointed but still hopeful. And regardless, the process spawned an exploration of how we might go about doing this ourselves, and that is already well underway with the work that Tom [Loveland] and I are doing with the Broadband Task Force.