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Google picks Kansas City, not Honolulu, for ultra high speed network

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After seeing Facebook pleas and flash mobs, and even cities temporarily renaming themselves “Google,” the search engine giant said Wednesday it has chosen Kansas City, Kan., as the first place to get its new ultra-fast broadband network.

The company passed over applications from the state of Hawaii, the City & County of Honolulu and more than 1,100 other municipalities.

Google announced on its official blog that Kansas City would be the inaugural site for its “Fiber for Communities” program, which it says will be capable of making Internet access more than 100 times faster than the broadband connection in most U.S. homes.

The service, which will provide Internet connections of 1 gigabit per second to as many as 500,000 people, will be offered beginning in 2012 while Google looks at other communities across the country.

Google has signed a development agreement with the Kansas City officials and will be working with local organizations, business and universities in order to bring the service to fruition next year.

In February Google announced its plan to bring 1-gigabit-per-second Internet speed to a U.S. municipality as an experiment, not just to offer the service at competitive pricing, but to challenge application developers to create, based on what the new ‘Net speed would allow.

Google says it hopes phone and cable companies will learn lessons from the experimental network that will help them hurry the rollout of their own faster systems. It also hopes to provide a test-bed for online video and other advanced applications that require a lot of bandwidth.

If more data can be sent through Internet pipes at faster speeds, Google believes people will spend more time on the Internet — an activity that typically enriches the company by bringing more traffic to its dominant search engine and producing more opportunities to show revenue-generating ads.

“In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations,” Milo Medin, Google’s vice president of access services, wrote in a post on Google’s official blog. “We’ve found this in Kansas City.”

In a bid to attract Google, nearby Topeka informally renamed itself “Google, Kansas,” during March 2010. Members of the group Think Big Topeka also organized a flash mob at a community meeting and a formation of fans spelling out “Google” on the ice during a RoadRunners hockey game.

Unlike many of Google’s Web-based applications such as email, calendars and document creation, Kansas City’s Internet access using Google’s pipes likely won’t be free. On a question-and-answer page at its website, Google did not give specifics on its pricing plan, but said the company plans to offer the service “at a competitive price to what people are paying for Internet access today.”

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