Google Fiber headed to Kansas City, Kan.

Thursday, March 31, 2011 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 7:57 p.m. CDT, Thursday, March 31, 2011

COLUMBIA — Despite efforts to bring Google's high-speed fiber-optic Internet service to Columbia, including a flash mob during a Missouri basketball game in March 2010, Google did not take the bait.

Google revealed in February 2010 its plan, known as Google Fiber, to build and test high-speed broadband networks in a few locations throughout the nation in an effort to create faster Internet access, according to Google's website.

It announced Wednesday that it had chosen Kansas City, Kan., as the first city to participate in the project.

During the selection process, 36 Missouri municipalities, including Columbia, expressed interest in being involved in Google Fiber.

"If one message has come through loud and clear, it's this: People across the country are hungry for better and faster Internet access," the website stated.

In an attempt to attract Google to Columbia, CoMo Fiber was created to advocate for the city to be included in the trial.

"I thought Columbia had a really good shot at it because we combined some of the best elements of small town America and a larger city that has things like universities and a big life sciences community and other things that could foster major developments," said Hunter Cook, a member of CoMo Fiber and the data center manager of Tranquility Internet Services.

He said Columbia is a highly educated and motivated city and yet has substandard broadband access for its size and stature.

CoMo Fiber garnered support by making appearances at the 2010's True/False Film Festival and other city events to encourage Columbia residents to post requests on Google's website.

Former Mayor Darwin Hindman submitted an application for Google Fiber in March 2010, according to a previous Missourian report.

"We wanted to focus on real grass-roots organizations rather than stunts," Cook said referring to when Topeka, Kan., changed its name to Google, Kan., for the month of March last year.

Although Columbia was not selected, Cook said, "I still think that was the right strategy. I think that they did care about the thousands and thousands of people in Columbia who went online."

Cook said he would have liked Columbia to have been selected, but he was not disappointed with the effort the city made.

"It was a long shot. No regrets," Cook said.

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