Austin eyes Google’s super-fast broadband

Published 7:02 am Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The city of Austin has nine days to make an impression to the powers that be at Google.com.

Weeks after Google pitched its nationwide offer to bring super-fast broadband to winning communities, Austin’s city council came out in support of the city’s business community, who voiced their excitement Monday to put Austin on Google’s map.

Google is offering to build a one-gigabit-per-second fiber network to connect each home in a community of between 50,000 and 500,000 people. It promises a network open to competitors, with service at an affordable price. Only select cities will be offered the opportunity, and applications are due March 26.

“This is something that is really cutting edge and can have a major impact on the city,” community development director Craig Hoium told the council Monday during a work session.

The network would be 10 times faster than today’s state-of-the-art networks. It could dramatically expand the way people and businesses communicate, explained Shawn Riley, director of information technology at Austin Medical Center.

Austin is far from the only city chasing Google’s offer. Duluth and Superior, Wis. have teamed up to pitch a combined Google Twin Ports. St. Paul’s St. Anthony Park neighborhood and the City of St. Paul have also been reported to be applying.

Hoium and the chamber of commerce will soon be putting together an application to meet the deadline.

The Twin Harbors have been working on their application a bit longer. Duluth Mayor Don Ness leaped into Lake Superior in February in a marketing effort to convince Google that the city’s residents need a faster way to look up “define: hypothermia.”

Riley joked with Mayor Tom Stiehm during the session, suggesting he dive into SPAM to make a wave for Austin instead.

Applications are due March 26. More information is available at www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/.