Instead of “Google Oak Lawn” it will be “Google Kansas City.” The search engine giant announced the winner of its high-speed, fiber network sweepstakes on its blog on Wednesday.
Google selected Kansas City, KS, as the first trial community for its ultra high-speed broadband network after reviewing applications from more than 1,100 communities throughout the United States.
Google inked a development deal with Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon. Pending approval from the city’s board of commissioners, Google plans to start offering its high-speed Internet service in 2012. The company claims it will be able to 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."
Oak Lawn — the only south suburb to apply — received no official notification from Google of its final selection. Village Manager Larry Deetjen did say that Oak Lawn was given serious consideration as a trial site for the high-speed, broadband fiber network.
“I stand by our application which I thought was highly competitive,” Deetjen said. “We learned a lot as a municipal team and also from the many residents who supported and contributed to it.”
Deetjen said that citizen support figured greatly in the application process. Google’s announcement of its “Think Big With Gig” campaign in February 2010 galvanized residents, businesses and students in lobbying for Oak Lawn to become the first community to receive the company’s fiber optic broadband service.
Oak Lawn’s “The Need for Speed” Facebook page garnered 2,635 likes. Advocate Christ Medical Center, which helped fund the application and participated in the submission process, was also a key major strength.
“This is a company on the leading edge of medical science,” Deetjen said of Advocate Christ. “They’re on the cusp of cutting-edge technology in the medical field. We learned a lot about medical sharing. Having said that, Ann Arbor has Michigan, and Palo Alto [CA] has Stanford and none of those were chosen. There was a lot of competition. I’m sure those communities feel as Oak Lawn does.”
In a statement posted on Google’s blog following the announcement of Kansas City becoming the first trial site, Vice President of Access Services Milo Medin said it was “the start, not the end of the project.”
“We’ve heard from some communities that they’re disappointed not to have been selected … So just to reiterate what I've said many times in interviews: we're so thrilled by the interest we've generated—today is the start, not the end the project,” Medin said. “And over the coming months, we'll be talking to other interested cities about the possibility of us bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities.”
Mayor Dave Heilmann called the community effort to be chosen for the initial build of Google’s high-speed, fiber network “a positive thing.”
“It would have been great to get it,” Heilmann said. “It brought everyone together from the community and it was a good experience to go through. We have to see how it works in Kansas City.”
Deetjen said that Oak Lawn was still in the “communications loop” with Google for consideration in the future, but would not expand on who village officials have been talking to at Google.
The village manager did not know where Oak Lawn ranked for consideration.
“I do know that we were given serious consideration, so that’s why I think in the future there are opportunities and that it will come about,” Deetjen said. “We’re in the loop that’s all I can tell you at this point.”