Traffic on the information highway in Kansas City, Mo., is about to speed up. Google announced Thursday its plans to roll out Google Fiber—an Internet-application that the web giant says is up to 100-times quicker than any other it offers across the country.
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Google selected Kansas City to receive the first-ever access to this technology out of 1,100 other cities across the country. Some tech advocates and entrepreneurs applauded the announcement, saying they hope the enhanced connection, with uploads and downloads of 1,000MB per second, will mean more credibility for the Silicon Valley rival among venture capitalists and startups.
Jase Wilson, founder of Luminopolis, a design and development company for community Websites, has been working out of Kansas City for 9 years. Wilson is banking on Google Fiber’s success to launch his company’s first product, Neighbor.ly, which he describes as a “Kickstarter.com for communities.”
“It’s hard for cities to allocate short tax dollars to municipal projects for things like, for example, community wireless,” Wilson said. “But we can all chip in and raise $100,000 for it.”
Wilson was a part of the Mayor’s Bi-state Innovation Team, which applied to have Google Fiber brought to the city. He said he is already hearing buzz from entrepreneurs looking to relocate to Kansas City in order to gain access to the super-speedy connection.
“It’s already a big draw,” he said. “People have told me they are packing up and moving because of this—they’re going to bring their career and life here.”
Shaul Jolles operates OfficePort, a co-working space in Kansas City, and is planning to launch TechPort once Google Fiber becomes available, sometime in September. TechPort will fund 12 companies with up to $125,000 each through a program Jolles put together with the state, county and angel investor groups.
“We have to see how successful [TechPort] is,” he said. “We are hoping it will be an annual fund and it will grow from there. We have to wait until we have an actual connection [to Google Fiber].”
The Google announcement has brought a lot of excitement to Kansas City, and Jolles said he will be ready to go the minute the connection is established.
“Companies may not need that speed immediately,” he said of the connection, “but we are really benefiting from the buzz and talent Kansas City is getting from this. Once companies have the connection, they will never go back.”
Ryan Weber, president of KCNext, the regional technology council, said the program is also padding the tech community’s pockets with more venture capital interest. New angel groups are being formed and investing alongside Silicon Valley groups, he said.
Having corporate headquarters for giants Garmin and Sprint doesn’t hurt either. KCNext has 80 companies in its portfolio, which it introduces to corporate partners, including Google.
“This announcement has put a big spotlight on Kansas City, and we are positioning ourselves to grow for the future,” Weber said.