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Do we want Google Fiber For Communities in Houston?

Perhaps you’ve heard about Google’s latest project.

We’re planning to build and test ultra high-speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the United States. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We plan to offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Dwight Silverman wondered what Houston might do about this.

I e-mailed Richard Lewis, the city’s chief technical officer, and asked him if Houston was indeed an “interested in community”. I heard back from Janis Evans, director of communications for Mayor Annise Parker. She said:

This looks interesting. However, the city would need some time to take a harder look at it, which we are doing.

Houston was aggressive when it came to plans in the mid-2000s to set up a citywide Wi-Fi network – a project that imploded when the chosen vendor, EarthLink, decided to get out of the business. All that’s left of the endeavor now are some downtown Wi-Fi hotspots.

If the city wants to work with Google, they can click the button on this page to apply. And, if you’re a resident or group interested in nominating your community, there’s a button for that on the page, too.

How about it, Houston? Are you an “interested community”?

If we are, we’re going to need to step it up. The city of Austin has already taken official action – they’ve submitted an application, asked for public support, and have their City Council involved. In addition, there’s a grassroots campaign going on as well.

If Austin is going to convince Google to build here, it’s going to take a strong community response. In fact, there is a whole section of questions for the City to document the community response to the initiative.

The “Big Gig Austin” initiative has been created by a number of supporters, who want to work in support of the Google RFI. We’ve got about one month to document how incredibly badly Austin wants this network to be built here.

The official rollout of the project will be happening in the next few days. In the meantime, we’ve created a couple of resources.

24-Hour Twitter Campaign

If, in the next 24 hours, if we can get 200 people to follow @BigGigAustin, I’ll ask the City to put us in a press release. I know there have been discussions about sending out a press release about the Google fiber project. If we can get that kind of following so quickly, I’ll ask the City to cite us in their press release as an example of how Austin is rallying behind this project.

That was posted Wednesday at noon. As of now, there are 199 followers of @BigGigAustin, so they didn’t quite make their goal by the stated deadline, but that’s still a pretty good showing.

So that’s what Austin is doing, and if we want Houston to be a part of this, that’s an example of what we’re up against. What do you say, folks?

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7 Comments

  1. Robert Kane says:

    I have someone on my Facebook that I think works doing social media for Annise and this is the post I sent him with his reply…. I think google is someone good to “get into bed with”, with their forward thinking AND resources, but knowing how Houston likes to wait and see, then do it their own way (or wait until someone in city hall has a friend that will try to do it so the contract can go to them)… I sent the link to him on Monday.

    here’s our posts:

    Hey,
    Just in case ur not aware of this…. make sure it gets to the right place, Google is looking for State, County & City officials to respond….

    Google Fiber for Communities: Think big with a gig
    http://www.google.com
    Google is planning to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Learn more about this initiative.
    February 22 at 6:21pm · Comment · Like · Share · See Wall-to-Wall

    (His Answer) It’s never about being the first. I’d rather do what’s best for the people. Technology changes everyday, and what’s ‘in’ today can change dramatically in 48hours. Just because a city or entity becomes the first to do something, it doesn’t mean they’re the best.

    Remember, the best case studies are from the mistakes others have made. In moving forward, we utilize what we learn so we can improve on it for ourselves.
    Tue at 6:56pm ·

    Robert Kane: We could have this conversation all day no doubt… I’ve lived in Boston, North Carolina, Florida, Mexico & Brasil. I have traveled to 50 countries and 40 states… not saying this in a bragging fashion, only to say that I’ve “witnessed” many different ways of doing things.

    In government, those who wait and are unprepared…. don’t get projects through…. just look at how Texas missed out on high speed rail money , that’s just 1 example… I also agree on not DUPLICATING efforts others have done and learn by their experience, but you can’t stand by the sidelines and wait either, know what I mean?

    Plus, with Google’s track record…. I’d put faith in the r&d that they’ve done ;-)

  2. Bob Derr says:

    I’m telling everyone I can. 100X faster than my current connection… I want it!!!

  3. PDiddie says:

    Maybe related: Facebook just opened an office and hired two hundred people in Austin.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/business/6885034.html

    First major expansion outside company HQ Palo Alto.

    If Houston can’t be the engineer on this train then I hope we can jump aboard before it leaves the station.

  4. […] Land joins Austin in making a concerted pitch to bring Google Fiber For Communities to their town. “This project […]

  5. herbie says:

    You guys are all getting played by Google.gov. Don’t drink the koolaid., build the network yourselves because your going to be Google employees if there’s “FREE” internet. All that glitters is not gold…

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