A number of cities are locked in fierce competition to be chosen for a free Google pilot program that would install a citywide network of ultra-high-speed broadband service.
Google has hung the offer out there, and cities have responded.
The mayor of Duluth, Minn. said he’ll jump into a frozen lake.
The mayor of a small Florida town said he’ll swim with sharks, and the mayor of Wilmington, N.C. offered to jump out of an airplane.
Topeka, Kan., renamed itself “Google” for a 24-hour period.
Colorado Springs wants in on the competition, too, but local efforts are a little more subdued – there’s a banner ad on the city Web site encouraging people to complete a petition to send to Google.
“We’re working on the RFI (request for information),” said Curlie Matthews, director of information technology for Colorado Springs. “I think having a solid RFI is better than the flashy stuff.”
Matthews said Colorado Springs stands a good chance with Google – it has a highly educated, highly technical work force, and is home to four military bases.
“And they have to have a constant exchange of information, every day,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing that will get Google’s attention – not the stunts.”
But there appears to be good reason for the competition.
Google says its network would produce speeds more than 100 times faster than most Americans have access to today, with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections.
The network will be built for free, and the service would be offered to at least 50,000 people – or as many as 500,000 – at a competitive price.
Competing broadband providers call the Google effort a publicity stunt that will do little to advance the nation’s broadband agenda.
Still, Friday is the deadline to gain Google’s attention, and hundreds of cities are expected to apply.
The stunts also are likely to continue – in some cities.