Google Finds Its Ruby Slippers, Goes to Kansas

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) has picked the lucky town to get a fiber-optic network line to every home, running at a mind-boggling gigabit per second. Among nearly 1,100 applicant communities, the one that took the prize is Kansas City, Kan.

Suburb Topeka gave it the old college try, even changing its name to Google, Kan., for a while, but it just wasn't good enough. In Kansas City proper, Big G found the mix of build-out efficiencies, potential benefit to the community, and cooperation from local government and utilities to make it work.

The network should be operational in 2012 with an open access policy that lets other service providers sell access plans using Google's pipes. Prices for this turbo-charged service should be comparable to what people are paying for much slower connections today, but exact price lists are yet to come.

The news comes on the same day that Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) announced a backbone connection to Kansas City about 10 times the size of the current infrastructure pipes. One has to wonder whether this is a lucky coincidence or evidence of another big-thinking collaboration between Google and Verizon. I'm sure the G has some dark fiber running into this neighborhood, too, or else the choice wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. What's the use of an ultra-fast connection to your home if the next hop presents an instant bottleneck?

If your hometown missed out on this network project, don't despair: Kansas City is but the first in what could become a nationwide series of fiber networks from Google. "We'll also be looking closely at ways to bring ultra-high-speed Internet to other cities across the country," says the press statement. It's also not exactly the first community on the list as Google already dipped a toe in the waters with a high-speed network around Stanford University.

Faster networks had to come along eventually, but Google has given the slow progress of traditional competition a swift kick in the pants. High-definition video feeds will hardly tax a network like this: It'll take a lot of YouTube or Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX  ) videos to clog a community network of this size. Google "can't wait to see what new products and services will emerge" in Kansas City and other target cities with truly beefy network connections for everyone. Neither can I.

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Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google and Netflix but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. He knows that it's hot in Topeka! Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.


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