When Google says jump, cities say…

Baltimore digs deep in hope of attracting company's high-speed network

Ever since Google announced its intention to build an ultra-high speed network for one or more communities, cities and towns have been jostling for the attention of the Internet giant, often in ways that have nothing to do with broadband.

The mayor of Duluth, Minn., jumped into Lake Superior (in March), the mayor of Sarasota, Fla., swam with sharks, and Topeka, Kan., famously, though temporarily, changed its name to Google.

But not all of the 1,100 communities that have expressed interest in the Google Fiber plan are relying on stunts. The city of Baltimore, for instance, is surveying and mapping its 3.9 million feet of underground conduits in hope that Google will choose to make its billion-dollar investment in the city, according to a release from the office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

And who’s idea was it? Why, Google’s, of course. The mayor’s release states: “As part of the fiber effort, Google has encouraged cities ‘…to make conduit installation an integral part of their own road construction/repair process…’ and Baltimore has done just that.”

But regardless of who’s calling the shots, Baltimore seems likely to gain from mapping the conduit system, a process that’s being done with geographic information system tools. The city owns the conduits, which contain electric, fiber optics and telecommunications cable, the mayor’s office said. If Google doesn’t invest there, another company might.

Google is expected to decide where to build the network, or network, by the end of the year.

\Meanwhile, Chattanooga, Tenn., has jumped ahead of the game on its own, making a 1 gigbit/sec fiber optic network available to 100,000 homes and businesses.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is editor of Defense Systems. Follow him on Twitter: @KevinMcCaney.

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