On the internet's new frontier
Google sees the Kansas project as a step change in internet technology, while those entrepreneurs who are using it see it as a giant leap forward, much like when broadband replaced dial-up modems.
Marcus, who is co-leader of the start-up village, compares Google’s nuts-and-bolts investment in Kansas to the move from by-hand card-dealing in Las Vegas to the electronic shuffler – ultimately it generates consumption by customers.
“Why is Google providing this speed? They benefit by pushing the envelope because the current internet service providers have been sitting on their laurels.”
Setting the bar high
By setting the bar this high, Google is attracting new companies looking to see what they can develop with the technology. Twenty businesses have committed to setting up in the village; and four have already been set up, funded by investors.
Mike Burke, chairman of the Kansas mayor’s innovation team for Missouri and Kansas, said that even before a computer was turned on the publicity surrounding Google Fiber being road-tested in Kansas as was a “huge energiser” for technology start-ups in the city.
Being the first American city wired for high-speed has opened up opportunities for many different industries in the area and attracted businesses looking to learn more, he said.
One company visiting is Dopool from China, whose products enable people to watch television on smartphones. With 80 million users, the firm is adding new ones at a rate of about five million a month.
“Google Fiber is like Gmail – that eventually became so popular,” said its chief executive, Bruce Chen, who is looking to expand and seems to be weighing Kansas for a research and development centre.
Nick Budidharma, an 18-year-old developer, moved to the Home for Hackers from South Carolina to get the bandwidth he needs to run his games server provider, LeetNode, at an affordable price. He hosts Fiber Fridays, a weekly event where he shows off what the superfast broadband connection can do.
“This opens up opportunities as to what we can do,” he said.
Phil Jaycox describes himself as the “first unofficial fibre tourist”, having moved from nearby St Louis to set up shop in the Home for Hackers. There he runs Dealivr, which helps small businesses deliver products.
“I have made a lot of progress here. Google Fiber definitely increases productivity,” he said. “I am mostly here for the people that Google has brought here. I like it because I can bounce ideas off other start-ups – creativity creates creativity.”