Thursday, December 09, 2010
Ann Arbor holds out hope for fiber optic broadband
In March, Google announced plans to install a high-speed fiber optic network in one or two communities in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Soon after the announcement, community organizers in Ann Arbor began a campaign to publicize the development and bring it to fruition, AnnArbor.com reports.
The efforts included the launching of a website, A2Fiber.com, to support the campaign.
Some communities ran their own campaigns. Officials in Pittsfield and Saline publicized their efforts on Facebook and Twitter in hopes of winning the high-speed, fiber optic network.
Tom Crawford, Ann Arbor’s CIO, dismissed complaints that Google's efforts ran counter to Ann Arbor’s. “I don’t see it as negative or positive ... My understanding is they believe that something good in this region is good for all of us. I think Pittsfield and Saline believe the same thing. It’s just a different way of saying the same thing," he said.
About 1,100 communities applied to the contest and Google said it planned to announce the winners by the end of the year. However, the company has not yet made its selections. Google spokesman Jake Parrillo said the winners might be announced in January 2011, due to the number of applicants.
"The goal is still to get it out before the end of the year, but it may be some time early next year," Parrillo said. "We don’t want it to slip too far, but the number of applicants and the number of quality applicants overwhelmed us. It’s great."
Ann Arbor is still campaigning for the network, despite the delay. Derek Mehraban, CEO of Ingenex Digital Marketing, which is based in Ann Arbor, plans to distribute bumper stickers reading "I’d rather be traveling at 1 gigabyte per second.” The stickers reference the top speed of Google’s fiber optic cable networks, which registers internet speeds of up to 100 times faster than that found in an average U.S. home.
Google has not announced the exact criteria it will use to make its decision, though the company said it intends to study how the communities use the faster network speeds to increase innovation and mobile software applications use.
While Ann Arbor’s fiber optic network is still in the works, Google has expanded elsewhere. Recently, Google launched a test network at Stanford University, where faculty and university employees will be able to use the high-speed broadband.