Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gigabit Google - Kansas City Event Summary

This evening I attended the IASA Kansas City quarterly event and their topic was "Google Fiber and Kansas City."  Rachel Hack, the local Google Community Manager for Kansas City spoke about their plans for our area and had lots of good information.  Some of it I've seen other places and some not.

Here's a summary of what I heard and thought was notable:
  1. Google is running fiber in to homes, not businesses.  They have no timeline or significant plans to run it for businesses, even small ones.  So, if you want Google fiber for your business buy a house in Kansas City and start a home office!
  2. Google wants to enable everyone in the community with high speed internet access, especially those currently without it.  This means they like the diversity of Kansas City's neighborhoods.  They like that they can find lots of places with the wealthy and the financially challenged literally within sight of each other.
  3. They're interested in municipal buildings like libraries and schools and hospitals.  I heard the word "free" although I'm guessing I heard wrong.  It's an interesting idea though... put in free internet in public places to encourage communities and neighborhoods to work with Google on the rollout.
  4. The installation will be in Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO proper ONLY at this point.
  5. There are no current plans to go to other cities.  Rachel was asked about this several times and stayed with the company line: this is just about Kansas City right now.
  6. Rachel was asked about whether this was just a short-term test or if Google was in Kansas City for the long haul.  She said that the cost to deliver fiber to the home is significant and Google plans to make their investment work.
  7. Google will be evaluating neighborhoods based upon demand.  In neighborhoods where lots of people want Google fiber, they'll be higher on the list.  She said that Google will factor in neighborhoods where there aren't a lot of highly educated people that know to raise their hands and ask for the service.
  8. I asked about whether Google plans to give network preference to their own services over those of competitors.  I specifically asked about Microsoft's Office 365 products versus Google Apps.  She said that no, Google isn't planning on preferring anyones services over anyone else's.
  9. Someone asked about privacy over the fiber connection.  She said that Google takes people's privacy very seriously and will consider that.  By the way, it's harder, but not impossible to tap fiber than it is older copper wire infrastructure.  It should be somewhat more secure just because of the medium.
  10. Rachel mentioned that Kansas City, KS. schools give their kids laptops and that the lower income kids didn't have internet access at home to take full advantage of them.  Google hopes to remedy this and enable everyone.
  11. Google doesn't plan to open a local office anytime soon and is doing all their work with local contractors at this point.  There is one open position in Kansas City though for a "Technical Project Manager, Google Fiber - Kansas City" listed on the Google website.  if you've got lots of experience with fiber and project management this might be a job for you!
  12. Google is planning to encourage local entrepreneurship through partnerships with organizations like ThinkKC and the Kauffman Foundation's StartupWeekend.  The next Startup Weekend will be in April and Google may be a sponsor or partner of some sort.
I'll do some analysis on the event later.  The one thing that really surprised me was that Google doesn't plan to make their fiber available to businesses anytime soon.  Rachel really stressed that this move was about homes and helping bridge the digital divide.

Thanks to the KC IASA chapter for putting on the event!

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