Columbia pushes for Google fiber-optic Internet service

Thursday, February 18, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 6:11 p.m. CST, Sunday, March 7, 2010

Google is taking applications for a *1-gigabit-per-second trial service. A previous version of this story misstated the how fast the service would be.

COLUMBIA — As people switched from dial-up Internet to broadband, streaming media sites such as YouTube became popular and more accessible. Now, some Columbia residents have seen another opportunity to revolutionize how they use the Internet.

A meeting Friday at the Columbia Chamber of Commerce will bring together local people and organizations interested in Google’s high-speed fiber-optic broadband Internet service.


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Local businesses are among those expressing interest in encouraging the city to apply to bring the *1-gigabit-per-second trial service to Columbia, which would be 100 times faster than most services, according to Google’s project overview Web site.

Mike Brooks, Columbia’s director of economic development and president of Regional Economic Development Inc., said he was quite certain the city will submit a request for information.

“For a legitimate shot for this service, there has to be government response,” Brooks said.

State, county or city governments must submit an information request to Google by March 26. Residents and local groups can also express their support on the Web site.

The city already posted a notice on its home page that says: "The City of Columbia is aware of Google's (request for information) for building high-speed broadband and is working with others in the community to formulate a response."

Brooks said local business owners in particular saw this as an opportunity after reading about Google's plans in news outlets such as USA Today.

Keith Politte, manager of the Reynolds Journalism Institute Technology Testing Center, said this level of connectivity would "help invent the future."

“Google is a very significant player and we need to further our collaborative relationships with Google and other information-based brands,” Politte said. He said the trial would develop areas such as higher education, agriculture, journalism and the medical industry at a more rapid rate.

Software developer Ian Eyberg, 26, co-created a group called CoMo Fiber when he heard about the opportunity in the news. He said the development would force other Internet service providers such as Mediacom and CenturyLink to upgrade.

“Cable (Internet) companies are making a lot of money so there's no incentive to upgrade service," Eyberg said.

One of CoMo Fiber's goals is to turn Columbia into the capital of the Midwest, he said. CoMo Fiber’s next meeting will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at Kaldi’s Coffee House on Ninth Street.

“If the past is any indication, quantum leaps in technology many times lead to significant expansion of economic opportunity – Columbia is positioned to seize many of those," Politte said.

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Paul Love February 18, 2010 | 7:48 a.m.

For those residents who also want to show their support of the project they can express interest in bringing the project to our community at:

Strong community support for a project is always a plus. Columbia has a strong tradition of winning projects based on a well mobilized online presence (recently, ZooToo and Most Caring Radio Station) Let the folks at Google know we want this project for our town.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking February 18, 2010 | 8:23 a.m.

"1-gigabyte-per-second trial service"

It's actually one gigabit/second, which is about 10 times slower than 1 gigabyte would be. Still much faster than any consumer Internet access available here.

This is faster than a lot of people's network cards, so some upgrading would be needed for people to get the full benefit.

I still think 1.5 Mbps is plenty fast, but let's see how this goes.


(Report Comment)
Rob Weir February 18, 2010 | 9:55 a.m.

Mark: You're absolutely right, and we're working on correcting that right now. A byte is 8 bits, so the speed is overstated by a factor of 8.

Rob Weir
Director of Digital Development
The Columbia Missourian

(Report Comment)
Heather Larsen February 18, 2010 | 11:42 a.m.

Eyberg says "Cable (Internet) companies are making a lot of money so there's no incentive to upgrade service."

Didn't Mediacom just take their Internet speeds up to 50 Mbps in Columbia? I just did a quick google search (quite a coincidence), and it looks like Mediacom offers the fastest Internet in the nation in Waterloo, IA at 105 Mbps.

I don't think Eyberg knows what he is talking about.

Wouldn't make more sense to try and work with local Columbia companies if the community thinks it needs more speed?

(Report Comment)

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