For $70 a month, Google Fiber offers an Internet hookup 100 times faster than average US broadband speeds, taking advantage of advanced networks of fiber-optic cables. It’s speedy enough to download an HD movie in a few seconds and it’s the type of network often called “future proof,” because it’s limited more by the computers sending information than by network speeds.
“In the 20th century, businesses would look at a town and see if it had an exit on the interstate [to decide to locate there],” says Patrick Lucey, a researcher and one of the authors of a recent report on internet connectivity by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute. “In the twenty-first century, they’ll look for a fiber-optic network.”
The connection uploads just as fast as it downloads, which is both rare and essential for companies or individuals that work with large amounts of data. Telemedicine— the practice of doctors treating patients remotely over an Internet connection— is one such area, and the Google Fiber project could potentially turn Kansas City into a center for that industry, according to Ryan Weber, president of KCNext, the Technology Council of Greater Kansas City. Telemedicine is considered one potential way to reduce the cost of healthcare.
Kansas City beat out more than 1,100 other cities to win the Google project. The company said the enthusiasm of residents won it over. The company is using a similar metric to decide who gets Fiber service first: neighborhoods that express the most interest by pre-registering will be the first to be wired.