Boston pitches as Google Internet contest ends
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino says his city is "Google-ready," but there's plenty of competition as it makes its bid to persuade Google Inc. to build a superfast data network here.
Today was the deadline for cities and towns to file applications to have Google build a super-high-speed Internet network in their communities. As of Friday morning, more than 600 communities across the country had submitted official applications, and more than 190,000 individuals had sent in their own pitches to have a Google Internet service brought to their community. But it'll be months before the giant Internet search company decides where it'll build the new system.
"We plan to review the responses in detail," said Google project manager Minnie Ingersoll. "Our team will be reading every response and making its decisions based on a number of factors."
In February, Google revealed a plan to build one or more digital networks to serve between 50,000 and 500,000 Americans. The new broadband networks would use optical fiber capable of delivering data at one billion bits per second, which is about 100 times faster than the service offered by most cable TV broadband services.
Google plans to build the networks at its own expense. The company could choose a single location, or it might build several networks in cities of varying size. Residential and business users would pay for the service at a rate comparable to what they pay for existing broadband services.
Boston, Quincy, Worcester, Newburyport, Shrewsbury and a host of other Massachusetts communities have applied for the Google network. Google will review each official application, the company said, as well as data aggregated from the more than 190,000 applications from individual citizens.
Many cities promoted their bids with humorous stunts. Sarasota, Fla., Mayor Richard Clapp dove into an aquarium tank filled with sharks to demonstrate his eagerness for the project, while Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, Minn., leaped into the icy waters of Lake Superior.
Boston has taken a more conservative approach. The city's application stresses its role as a global academic and research center, and major financial hub. It notes that large amounts of unused, or "dark," optical fiber has already been installed under the city's streets. Google could use this fiber as the backbone of its system, enabling the company to complete construction quickly and at low cost.
Rather than wire the entire city, the Boston application proposes that Google's network should serve the Longwood medical area and a five-square-mile residential area that includes Roxbury, Dorchester, and parts of Mission Hill and the South End.