Universities hope to top Google’s high-speed list

Google plans to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in communities across the United States.
Google plans to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in communities across the United States.

As cities and towns vie for the opportunity to be chosen for Google Inc.’s pilot of an experimental, ultra-fast internet network, some colleges and universities have thrown their support behind their local towns.

Google is planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in at least one and possibly several locations across the United States. The plan is to be able to deliver internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second through fiber-to-the-home connections—more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today. Google hopes to be able to offer the service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Schools such as the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have announced their intention to team with their local communities and submit requests for information (RFIs) to Google.

The University of Michigan and Ann Arbor have called on the community to mobilize through various social media platforms and tell Google why the city should be chosen.

“Access to ultra high-speed broadband networks would be a significant spur to communication, cooperation, and innovation in our community and beyond,” said University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman in a press release.

Aside from having faster and better internet access for both residents and students, which would expand their access to educational opportunities, Google Fiber also could attract companies to the area, Ann Arbor officials said.

“We are excited by this opportunity to partner with other leaders in our community, and to hear from our residents, demonstrating why Google should elect Ann Arbor as the ideal location for making better and faster internet for everyone a reality,” said Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje.

“We’re interested in deploying our network efficiently and quickly and are hoping to identify interested community partners that will work with us to achieve this goal,” said a Google spokeswoman.

“To that end, we’ll use our RFI to identify interested communities and to assess local factors that will impact the efficiency and speed of our deployment, such as the level of community support, local resources, weather conditions, approved construction methods, and local regulatory issues. We will also take into account broadband availability and speeds that are already offered to users within a community.

“The RFI is a first step; we plan to consult with local government organizations, as well as conduct site visits and meet with local officials, before announcing our final decisions,” she said.

RFIs will be accepted until March 26, with an announcement of trial communities to come later this year.

Besides Ann Arbor and Charlottesville, Va., other communities that have expressed interest in becoming test sites for Google’s ultra high-speed networks include Burlington, Vt., and Topeka, Kan., where the local mayor has temporarily renamed the city “Google” in an effort to persuade the internet giant that Topeka should be chosen.


Google Fiber RFI