Application deadline for Google broadband nears

Published 7:25 am Thursday, March 25, 2010

The clock is ticking on Austin if the city wants any chance at getting ultra-high speed broadband through Internet behemoth Google.

The California-based mega-company is looking for an unspecified number of communities to receive one-gigabit-per-second fiber networks as part of a what Google is calling a connectivity “experiment.” The application deadline is 7 p.m. Friday, and Austin officials have stated that they intend to get the city’s name in the hat.

Craig Hoium, the city’s planning director, will be the one ultimately completing and submitting the application. He said Wednesday that the application has kept him “extremely” busy, with Google looking for data ranging from local weather to topography to demographics.

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But Hoium said the process would be well worth it if Austin landed the service, as it would provide Internet speeds roughly 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to now and come at no cost to the city — Google has agreed to pay for installation.

Hoium said Austin will be a good candidate, with resources like the Hormel Institute as selling points. However, one holdup could be Google’s expressed desire to serve at least 50,000 people in any community selected. Austin’s population falls short of that mark, but Hoium said enough outlying areas could tap into the service to hit the target.

If Google does peg Austin, Hoium said the ultra-high speed Internet could do a lot of good throughout the community.

“This is something that is really cutting edge and can have a major impact on the city,” he said during a City Council meeting last week.

To drum up support, local officials launched, where a number of project endorsements have been posted publicly. This includes a statement from Hormel CEO Jeff Ettinger, who wrote, “High speed networks and economic development are intrinsically connected. The Google Fiber network represents an unprecedented opportunity to bring a new generation of applications and resources to our homes, workplaces, schools and institutions.”

Google is also looking to hear from supportive residents, as they are encouraging people to submit nominations alongside a city’s application.

It is not clear, however, when Google intends to announce the selected communities and exactly how many there will be. Most likely, the company will whittle down a list of finalists and then examine each of those more thoroughly before making final selections.

The quest for Google broadband

-For more on Google’s proposal, go to

-To see local endorsements of the proposal and to nominate Austin, go to