Google today announced that it is about to start the actual building phase of its experimental ultra high-speed network in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri. For now, Google will focus on building the backbone of the network and once that's ready, it will start wiring homes across the two cities and connect them to the Internet. Google's idea is to offer network speeds up to 1,000 megabits and plans to have the network up and running later this year.
When the company first announced this project in 2010, it said that it wanted to do this as an experiment to see what the “killer apps” for an ultra high-speed network would be and test how to deploy these networks on a large scale.
Something New for Google: Arguing over Utility Poles
In Kansas City, there was actually quite a long debate over where exactly Google could hang its fiber lines. The original proposal and agreement with the city would have given Google the right to hang its wires for free on the upper part of utility poles owned by the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities. Telecom companies usually hang their wires lower on the poles (ensuring that electricity won't be disrupted for work on the telecom wires) and pay a fee to do so, however. While it's not clear what exactly Google currently plans to do, the Kansas City Star reports that "is opting to pay attachment fees and take the more common route of placing their wires in the space used for telecommunications."
Bringing 1,000 Megabits to Kansas City
Google first announced this project almost exactly two years ago. After a nationwide search, in which about 600 communities competed to host Google's network, Kansas City, Kansas won the competition (its neighboring city Kansas City, Missouri was included a bit later as well). Service, of course, won't be free, but the company promises to offer access to its network "at a competitive price to what people are paying for Internet access today."
In the middle of 2011, Google announced that it was ready to "put boots on the ground" in Kansas and start the detail engineering phase of its project. Since then, Google's engineers and those of multiple contractors the company is working with finished the engineering study needed to get the actual fiber into the ground and onto the city's telephone poles.