Google’s Ultrafast Internet Service Blows Past Cable Companies

Tuesday, 29 Jan 2013 07:55 AM

By John Morgan

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Google’s drive to boost consumer demand for its service led it on a path to Kansas City, Kan., where an experiment is connecting homes and businesses to Internet speeds that are 100 times faster than in most of America.

The effort is putting competitive pressure on cable companies, which now have to compete for consumers who can get faster speeds at lower monthly rates, according to The Washington Post.

City officials and Google both hope the project will spark local innovation and business activity.

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“What Google is providing is a catalyst. This infrastructure is enormously important to create a ripple effect of entrepreneurial activity,” said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of the Kauffman Foundation, which is trying to help local startups.

About a dozen startups have gotten off the ground in the first Kansas City neighborhood to get Google Fiber’s 1-gigabit-per-second service, The Post reported. Local employment growth so far has not budged, but the effort has only been under way for nine months.

“This is exactly what we hoped would happen. More home-sprung businesses. More competition. In that way, Google’s project is a success already,” said Richard Usher, assistant city manager for Kansas City, Mo.

Google has not divulged how much it has spent on the project, but it wants consumers to search more, put more videos on its YouTube service and move their emails and documents to Google’s cloud system of services, according to The Post.

Outside investors are also showing interest, according to The Post. At least one microfinance investment firm opened an office in the city last year hoping to invest in the local tech community.

City officials speculate the Google project prompted Time Warner Cable to bid for a contract to wire a new city-sponsored “incubator” in the old Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.

“It was the first time I had heard from Time Warner in six years,” Usher said.

Time Warner Cable provides speeds one-tenth of Google Fiber for about $5 more than Google’s $70 per month, according to The Post.

Google also offers its own cable-TV like service for $50 and a slower Internet connection is free on a monthly basis after a $300 installation fee, according to The Associated Press.

The area in Kansas City where the new tech businesses are congregating has been dubbed “Silicon Prairie,” the AP reported

Local Web developer Ben Barreth bought a home in the area where other developers can stay rent-free for three months while they try to get a new business started.

“The hope is that these startups will move their operations to Kansas City and this will really bless Kansas City, bring jobs and taxes and we’ll build a really cool tech scene,” Barreth said.

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