2011/05/28

Google Fiber Expanded To Kansas City, Missouri

On May 17, 2011, Google announced they would be building a gigabit fiber community network in Kansas City, Missouri (KCMO), in addition to the Google Fiber project for Kansas City, Kansas (KCK), which was announced on March 30, 2011.

There are several interesting aspects of this Kansas City (KC) metro area Google Fiber rollout.
  1. Community population. The 2010 census shows about 146,000 people in KCK, 460,000 in KCMO and 2.1 million in the KC metro area. The different community sizes will likely play a part in Google Fiber's impact in those areas.
  2. Political issues. The two KCs are located in different states, which may have political ramifications, or at least two sets of regulatory issues to navigate. One of the apparent reasons for picking KCK was the ease of working with a city-county unified government. That same beneficial situation won't exist on the Missouri side of the river.
  3. Potential impact. It is impossible to predict exactly how the Google Fiber project will impact either KCK or KCMO. However, based on the size of the cities and the number of technology companies and high tech workers in the respective cities, it seems reasonable to expect the Google Fiber to make a relatively bigger splash in KCK, changing the status quo more than it will on the east side of the river.
Expect to see quick applications for ultra high-speed internet access in KCMO. The metro area is home to Sprint, University of Missouri - Kansas City with 14,000 students, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Cerner Corp, Garmin International and numerous other companies and organizations which can immediately benefit from a gigabit community-wide network.

The other side of the river, KCK may not launch as many gigabit ventures as KCMO in the first few months, but because Google Fiber will likely have a bigger relative impact in KCK, it will be interesting to watch how the plot develops west of the line dividing the two states and two cities.

KCMO has quite a few technology organizations and events. Two of specific interest to me are the Cowtown Computer Congress hackerspace and the Maker Faire Kansas City, to be held on June 25 - 26, 2011. Participant-driven groups and events like these, along with the more traditional tech groups like AITP, ACM and KCIT Professionals, make KCMO an excellent community for immediately pouncing on opportunities presented by Google Fiber's kick in the pants to the network connections for KC organizations and tech-savvy individuals.

Here's a partial list of the organizations which supported the KCMO application to Google Fiber: KC Network Access Point, CTC Companies, Downtown Council, Economic Development Corporation of Kansas City, Emanuel Cleaver, Congressman, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Green Impact Zone, Greater KC Women’s Political Caucus, Hunt Midwest Enterprises, Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute, Kansas City Power & Light, Kansas City Area Development Council, Kansas City Missouri School District, Midwest Research Institute, Polsinelli Shughart, ReStart, Swope Community Enterprises, Theresa Garza Ruiz, 1st District at Large Jackson County Legislator, The Chamber (Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce) and UMB. With community support from these and other organizations in KCMO, the Google Fiber experiment will be a beacon shining brightly in all directions to the rest of America and the world.

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