American cities fight for Google's attention

One month ago, Google put the word out that it was looking to build and test its own fiber-to-the-home networks in a couple of cities. The speeds would be up to 1 Gbps and the reach would initially be about 50,000 homes.

Immediately, hundreds of cities began making pitches to attract Google's attention, some earnest, some outlandish.

Topeka, Kansas unofficially renamed itself "Google" for the month and garnered a considerable amount of attention; Sarasota, Florida quickly followed suit and re-named its City Island "Google Island".

Duluth, Minnesota's mayor Don Ness jumped into a 35 degree Lake Superior as a dual-purpose media event for Google Fiber and the Special Olympics; and 1,000 Morgantown, West Virginia residents last week held up signs saying "We Want a Gig" at the WVU-Georgetown basketball game.

But the majority of the cities interested in getting Google Fiber haven't resorted to cheap publicity stunts, and are hoping that their answers to Google's Request for Information will be much more convincing.

"I think we're going to draw the line at silly stunts," Madison, Wisconsin alderman Mark Clear said today. City officials there are hosting a public meeting to gather ideas for their pitch and show the community's interest in the project.

Juneau, Alaska has made the case that its isolated, mountainous location will serve as an ideal testing ground since it is both environmentally challenging and populous.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley reminded us of Baltimore's historical significance as "that place from which our nation's railroads emanated, and the place that was the source of the first telegraph message ever sent."

Kalamazoo, Michigan is using health care as its wager. The Kalamazoo Gazette's Editorial board argues that its modern health care facilities and its major medical corporations Pfizer and Stryker could benefit greatly from the fiber network.

In just under three weeks, we will be able to see which approach worked. March 26 is the last day Google will accept submissions for its fiber optic trial, and it will announce which cities it has chosen shortly after.

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