City of Austin Working Toward Teaming with Google

Posted by Crystal Olenbush on Saturday, March 13th, 2010 at 7:49pm.

Austin is planning to make a bid on becoming one of the sites for the ultra-fast broadband network that is being considered by Google Inc and that will significantly increase the speed of Internet access throughout the city.

Earlier this month, Google announce plans to build one or more high-speed networks in an effort to demonstrate the advantages of having fast Internet access. Through the proposed project, the system would be 50 to 100 times faster than the fastest commercial broadband services typically available in the United States. By offering this super fast service, the company hopes to jumpstart the development of next-generation online services while also demonstrating how to build and operate such a network.

Many within the Austin community think it would be in the city's best interest to pursue teaming up with Google to work on this project. As such, City Council Members are moving forward with considering a resolution to prepare a response to Google regarding the project. Furthermore, Rondella Hawkins, who is the manager of Austin's telecommunications and regulatory affairs, has said that she will coordinate the city's response while also requesting more information fro other cities that are interested in participating in the project.

When deciding on which city or cities will participate in the program, Google will consider the broadband services that are already available as well as the potential demand in the city for higher-speed broadband services. The company is also interested in working with sites where it can quickly and efficiently deploy a network. Thanks to Austin's substantial high-tech business and academic communities, Hawkins believes the city is a good fit with what Google is looking for. Currently, the city has three broadband providers in place, with Time Warner Cable Inc. being the dominant company. Dallas-based AT&T an San Marcos-based Grande Communications also offer services that cover only parts of the city.

City officials are already working together on putting together a proposal, though Hawkins has indicated that she expects the competition to be quite intense. Other cities that have also expressed an interest in participating in the program include Portland in Oregon, Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and Seattle in Washington.

Applications to participate in the project are due by March 26. Although Google hasn't said how many locations will be included in the project, the company plans to make its decision regarding which city or cities will participate by the end of this year.

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