Some S. Fla. cities hope for high-speed boost from Google Fiber

Ashesh Shah
March 26, 2010
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2 Comments

Local buzz has been lacking, but several South Florida cities are applying for Google Fiber, an experimental high-speed Internet network.

Miami Beach likely won’t be changing its name to Silicon Beach anytime soon, and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado hasn’t thrown himself into Biscayne Bay to grab Google’s attention.

But despite the lack of antics and buzz seen from other regions of the country since the announcement of Google Fiber, several South Florida communities are hoping they will become, if not the site of a new and experimental high-speed Internet, then one of the few communities with it.

Friday is the deadline to apply for Google’s revolutionary network, which according to the Internet giant will operate at more than 100 times the speed of the average connection. Miami Beach, Miami, South Miami, Cutler Bay and Boca Raton said they have applied or expect to.

Google is describing the new network as a groundbreaking development that will allow “applications that will be impossible today.” And the possibility of exclusively snagging the technology has sent U.S. cities into an online and media bidding war that in some cases has bordered on bizarre.

Topeka, Kan., changed its name to Google for the month of March. The ploy was countered the next day by a Duluth, Minn., mock decree that every first-born male in the city would be known as Google Fiber. Sarasota’s mayor even swam in a tank of water with bonnet head sharks.

A MUTED RESPONSE

Steketee Greiner & Company released a list Thursday of the 10 most active cities vying for Google’s revolutionary network, and Duluth, Topeka and Sarasota were named.

But no other Florida city made the list. And compared with other parts of the United States, the response in South Florida has been tepid.

“Am I going to set myself on fire to draw attention to our city? No,” said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

No one from Miami responded to an interview request made through a spokeswoman.

Brian Breslin, a self-described South Florida “tech community evangelist,” said he has heard little talk about Google Fiber.

“I know a large percentage of people in the tech community, and very few people are mentioning it,” he said.

Breslin said the new network will be a boon to any community chosen as a test site, because having the world’s fastest Internet connection would attract business.

“If you wanted to build a company around video content or large-scale data processing, you need a super high-speed Internet connection,” he said. “You’re opening the possibility for more startups and lowering costs.”

Kevin Crowder, director of economic development for Miami Beach, said the absence of antics shouldn’t be construed as a lack of interest.

He said Miami Beach — which has free citywide WiFi and is home to the New World Symphony, a musical partner with Google on the YouTube Symphony — stands on its merits.

“Think about the potential for an event like Art Basel,” Crowder said, adding that Miami Beach’s brand would bring Google publicity.

WHAT’S COMING UP

Google says it will announce its pick or picks later this year, and that between 50,000 and 500,000 people will have access to the new network. The company will bear the cost of constructing the new high-speed network, which will then be offered at a yet-to-be-determined cost to individual customers, according to a spokesperson.

Resource:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/26/1547896/some-s-fla-cities-hope-for-high.html

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