On the internet's new frontier
Google’s high-speed fibre broadband project in Kansas is charting new territory for the internet
Matthew Marcus is sitting among other technology entrepreneurs in his house in Kansas City, not far from the KansasMissouri state border that splits the city.
He inherited the property from his late mother, an antiques dealer, and since September has converted it into the head office of Kansas City Start-up Village for new technologies businesses.
Five doors up is the “Home for Hackers”, filled with internet entrepreneurs drawn to this hub of innovation and entrepreneurship. This new enterprise, which is just 130 days old, was going before Google Fiber, the internet giant’s start-up, made superfast internet available in the city from last autumn.
Long dismissed as a flyover state, Kansas City is getting more connected to the rest of the United States thanks to Google. It is the first US city wired for high-speed internet to homes.
Blowing rivals away
The company offers a one-gigabyte-per-second internet service, which is 100 times faster than the typical broadband connection in the US. The price is just $70 a month, blowing rivals away. Time Warner Cable offers broadband for about $5 more a month but at a tenth of Google’s speed.
Google’s service allow users watch four long YouTube videos at the same time without the downloader staring blankly at the screen waiting for the buffering to end.
In Kansas, Google is laying down a fibre optic network, the 21st century equivalent of railroad lines, and the start-up entrepreneurs are moving in like pioneers to use the new technology.
“This is the new frontier. It is ironic that we call it the Kansas City Start-up Village, the new western frontier for the new gold rush,” said Marcus, who runs Local Ruckus, an information website for local events, from Hanover Heights, the first of two so-called fibrehoods in Kansas City.
“We recognise we are at the forefront. If you are the first ones here you have a chance to capitalise. We laugh when we hear Kansas described as a flyover city or cow-town – we are changing that perspective.”
Kansas City was chosen by Google from about 1,600 applicants to be the first city to be wired for the company’s high-speed internet. The company was attracted to the city because of its position in the middle of the US, good demographics and colleges, its culture of entrepreneurs and its low cost and high quality of living.
The company will not disclose what it is investing in wiring the city. It plans to roll out the high-speed service to 178 more neighbourhoods across the bi-state city.
Chief financial officer Patrick Pichette said earlier this month on a results conference call that Google Fiber was “not a hobby” for the company and that it planned to invest similarly elsewhere.