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Davis, California

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Community embraces Google experiment

Google is opening its doors to a new market – ultra-high-speed broadband – and the city of Davis has made an official entry in the running to become a test ground for its fiber optic experiment.

Google’s test network will offer a competitive price for one gigabit per second connection speeds. For an Internet speed that is 100 times faster than the fastest connection currently available in Davis, the community must find a way to lobby enough interest and support to persuade Google to choose Davis.

City Council passed a resolution to officially proceed with the opportunity, but it is undecided on the number of cities that will be chosen, but the range of Google’s proposed network will be capable of providing between 50,000 and 500,000 customers.

“Davis is an ideal community that can greatly utilize the jump to fiber optics and promote Google’s effort to increase the potential of the internet,” said Rick Guidar, the city’s IT director.

Guidar believes this is a great opportunity to enhance the current infrastructure and equates an upgrade from ethernet to fiber optics in the “Google Fiber for Communities” project to a better cable system.

Cities throughout the country are campaigning for a chance to be a trial site for Google’s broadband project. According to BusinessWeek, Google will invest ample capital on this project, which has drawn bids from hundreds of candidates.

Greensboro, N.C. is underway with an “Operation Google” gift package for Google, as well as a $50,000 earmark to promote this opportunity to advance their municipal broadband infrastructure.

A Facebook page endorsing Topeka, Kansas for this investment already has more than 10,900 members.

Nevertheless, Guidar said Davis presents ideal terrain because it is flat and has suitable weather conditions for construction and management. The Request for Information application requires, among other things, every city describe their weather environment. Davis is a dependable test site because there is not a high occurrence of snow storms, hurricanes and other unfavorable conditions, Guidar said.

Kemble Pope, chairperson of Chamber of Commerce government relationship committee, is another advocate actively involved with promoting and encouraging the community to create a campaign that stands out from other cities.

“In order for Google to undertake this pilot project in Davis the community has to find an innovative way to attract them. If Google wants to invest in putting Davis on the forefront of developing technology we should embrace it,” Pope said.

Pope believes there are no problems with the city becoming partners with Google, and there only benefits to being a living laboratory for this project.

Mark Redican, director of communications resources at UC Davis believes most of the campus community supports Google coming to Davis because it opens a lot of possibilities for the students, faculty and staff that live in the city.

“Google wants this project to foster creativity, and give people big pipes to do innovative things, and from the university’s perspective the campus community is in a position to really take advantage of these services and do interesting things.” Redican said.

The UC Davis Government and Community Relations organization is also working on the campaign with the city.

Google’s effort to step into this new realm of business means they will compete with companies like Comcast and Surewest, which are two of the most popular options for fiber optic networks in the Sacramento region.

An application to nominate Davis is available on the Google Fiber web page and takes less than 10 minutes to fill out.

Johnny Jaber, a neurobiology, physiology and behavior major at UC Davis created a Facebook page in hopes of enticing Google to proceed with operations in Davis. He believes the community can only benefit from implementing a new civic infrastructure with advanced technology.

“If we have the opportunity to acquire fiber optic Internet capabilities in Davis, then why not try for it,” Jaber said. “There are fiber optic markets sporadically beginning to appear all over the U.S., and it’d be great to make Davis one of these cities ahead of the curve.”

MICHAEL STEPANOV can be reached at city@theaggie.org.


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