WASHINGTON — More than 600 communities, including Vancouver, have approached Google Inc. in hopes of landing one of the ultra-fast broadband networks that the company plans to build in a handful of spots around the country.
Last month, Google said it will build experimental fiber-optic networks that will deliver Internet connections of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 Americans. That would be up to 300 times faster than the broadband services reaching most U.S. homes today.
Friday marked the deadline for governments and citizens to express interest. Vancouver turned in its online application Friday morning.
Google wanted to know what the city has done to market the idea and garner support, but most of the information the city provided was business related, including the cost of pole permits, regulatory and business fees and the time it would take to get right-of-way access, said Patrick Gilbride, IT manager for the city of Vancouver.
Vancouver could be an appealing site for Google fiber because it already has a high degree of broadband use. About 90 percent of residents already have Internet access and 87 percent have broadband.
“We’re so wired and are such broadband users today, that indicates there’s a real demand here,” Gilbride said.
The benefit to Vancouver residents and businesses would be significant, Gilbride said. For example, downloading a high definition Blu-ray movie would take almost five minutes over Google fiber, versus eight hours with a typical Comcast connection. Having ultra-high-speed Internet could also help the city attract new businesses and residents, Gilbride said.
“It’s a great economic development selling point for us to bring (Google fiber) here and because there’s no citizen dollars at risk, it’s even better,” Gilbride said.
Google said the response has been “tremendous and creative,” with communities using everything from YouTube videos to Facebook groups to public rallies to promote themselves. The company will announce winners by the end of the year.
For more information, visit http://www.cityofvancouver.us/googlefiber.asp.