Friday was the deadline for municipalities to submit entries for Google’s Fiber Network Project. Working with several municipalities on their applications, it seems that the local governments were going to gain from universal Gbps access to homes and businesses. As I see it, they were missing the mark.
Whether or not you think Google wants or will enter the local fiber market as a business, I think we can all agree that a better understanding the impact of Gbps access will help Google identify other market and service opportunities.
I expect municipalities that focused on how their community could assist Google is tracking the impact would be the likely winners. For the local towns we helped, a few of our suggestions included:
- Surveying commuters and tracking changes in telecommuting patterns
- Intra- and inter-district online learning pilot programs, to leverage teaching resources and lower costs
- Medical information projects with local doctor’s practices, providers, and software vendors (my town is home to one the larger vendors of medical practice management software for small practices)
- Business development programs … does Gbps access attract businesses?
None of the towns we spoke with initially thought of helping gather and track information about the impact of the fiber network. Additionally, none of the towns had a business relationship with Google beyond use of public search. Many of these towns are now looking at Google Apps Education Edition as a starting point for the latter.
I’ll post updates if/when we learn how the town we helped are doing.