It started with an ambitious marketing plan and competition to offer very high speed Internet service to a winning community in the United States. More than 1100 communities around the country submitted their communities for consideration with creative public relations effort and publicity stunts. Ultimately Kansas City won the honor, and Google is now planning to connect the city's residents to an ultra fast fiber connection with speeds of 1 gigabit - 100 times the speed of a typical broadband connection. The project is underway now, and service should be offered to local residents beginning in 2012. Due to the overwhelming response, Google has promised to continue working with other communities to start other projects.
The 1 gigabit fiber connection will provide "open access," which means any ISP can use the connection to offer service at what Google calls "a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people." Much of the effort expended by Google to offer the high speed service is to discover new ways to use 1Gbps speeds, including partnering with local organizations to develop innovative applications for initiatives such as telemedicine.
According to the Google statement at the time Kansas City was announced as the lucky city: "Over the past decade, the jump from dial-up to broadband has led to streaming online video, digital music sales, video conferencing over the web and countless other innovations that have transformed communication and commerce. We can’t wait to see what new products and services will emerge as Kansas City moves from traditional broadband to ultra high-speed fiber optic connections."
What are the speed requirements for certain applications?
Google would also like to use the project to spur other providers to build high speed networks. Verizon has been in the front of these efforts in projects around the country, but other providers have been slow to follow.
Adding video offerings to its broadband Internet service is a natural fit for Google. They are already offering phone services to match the double play offerings of cable and telecom companies. Adding video would complete the service offerings and enable providers to offer triple play combinations. (Double and triple play offerings refer to promotional packages offered by cable and broadband companies which combine phone, Internet and Television options in reduced price offers.
Google is considering distributing major television channels from Time Warner, Discovery Communications, and Walt Disney. This follows the phone industry trend where phone companies dived into the cable TV arena - when the marketplace has previously been dominated by cable TV providers. Television is big industry - with some advertising estimates at more than $150 billion per year. Google knows a little about advertising as well - they are the biggest seller of advertisements on the Internet.
Google also has ambitious plans to expand in other areas as well. These include, developing software applications to automatically search for video on TV stations and the Internet, creating ad supported web content with video producers, and selling advertising on cable networks. In the Kansas City area, they rolled out a Google Maps application to offer airport visitors the ability to navigate through the airport, and find restaurants, terminals, restrooms, and baggage claims.
According to Steve Lee, Director of Product Management at Google, “Travelers can now use Google Maps for Android to more quickly and effortlessly figure out where they are and what’s around them when they’re indoors. We’re thrilled to work with Kansas City International Airport to improve people’s airport experience and help them determine various places within the venue they might want to go – be it a specific gate, ticket counter, restaurant, or just a restroom or ATM.”