Google Inc. picked Kansas City, Kan., for its super high-speed Internet service, which when deployed promises to be 100 times faster than what is available for many users today.
More than 1,100 cities entered Google's contest, which the company launched with much fanfare early last year. Google said it would build and pay for a fiber-optic network capable of 1 gigabit speeds in the winning community. Most U.S. homes paying for high-speed Internet connections receivedata at less than 10 megabits a second.
"In about 1995, 15 years ago roughly, everyone was living on 56 kilobits, and it was awful," said Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer. "And then somebody invented a 5-meg modem, and everybody was saying, 'What are you going to do with 5 megs?....Think what you're going to do with a gigabit — 1,000 megabits."
Pichette spoke before a packed auditorium at Kansas City's Wyandotte High School, where Google announced the winner. On hand were Mayor Joe Reardon and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.
Reardon said his son was excited about the prospect of playing video games online with friends without interruption.
"He hugged me," Reardon said. "He's a (PlayStation 3) gamer, and he said, 'You mean it's not going to freeze up on me anymore? You need to get that done tomorrow.' "
No date has been set to begin building the Google Fiber network, but Google said it hoped to debut the service in 2012. Google has not provided details on how much the service will cost to build or cost consumers. Public institutions such as schools will get the service free.
The company said it hopes to later roll out Google Fiber to more cities nationwide.
"Over 1,100 cities showed up and said, 'I'm ready for this,' " Pichette said. "Clearly, America has voted. They want higher speed, faster speed. They want the next-generation Web today."