http://paloaltoonline.com/print/story/print/2011/04/01/google-fiber-palo-alto-loses-out-to-kansas-city


Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 1, 2011

Google fiber: Palo Alto loses out to Kansas City

Midwest community to get ultra high-speed Internet project instead of Silicon Valley

by Sue Dremann

A Midwest city has beaten out all Silicon Valley contenders, including Palo Alto, to become Google's first fiber-optics-wired city, executives announced on Wednesday.

Kansas City, with a population of 145,786, was chosen out of 1,100 cities that applied in 2010 for the "Google Fiber for Communities" project, sponsored by the Mountain View tech giant.

The ultra high-speed fiber-to-the-home connections will provide Internet access at 100 times faster than typical broadband services, the company said. Fiber transmits light over fiber-optic cable a strand of glass as thin as a hair to send and receive data. It is far faster than electric signals sent over metal wires.

Palo Alto officials and technophiles aggressively wooed Google, creating a video and deluging the company with e-mail in support of bringing fiber to Palo Alto. The city sent a letter to the company last month seeking to further define its history and connections with Google in a last-ditch bid for the project.

But in the end, less tech-connected Kansas City won out.

"We were absolutely blown away by the leadership the mayor, the city staff, the utilities as well," Google General Manager Kevin Lo said in a YouTube video.

A company spokesperson did not elaborate on the reasons the Midwest city was chosen or where Palo Alto ranked in the contest, but Kansas City Mayor Joe Reardon said in a press release that "the wonderful diversity of our community, neighborhoods and industry make Kansas City, Kansas a microcosm for the rest of the country.

In selecting a city, the goal was to find a location where Google could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations, the company stated in its blog.

The Kansas City project will be the first of a handful of cities to receive Google fiber, the company spokesperson said.

"We want to thank Palo Alto and the hundreds of other cities across the country that expressed interest in our project. This was a tough decision, and we want everyone to know we carefully considered every application. We'll be looking closely at ways to bring ultra high-speeds to other cities across the country," she said.

Palo Alto City Manager James Keene said he congratulates Kansas City.

"To bring fiber to the heartland of the country, I appreciate the symbolism," he said.

"We hold out hope again in the next phase that Google will be thinking about us. We look forward to the opportunity in the next wave" of city selections, he said.

Palo Alto has been working on a high-speed Internet project for nearly 15 years but has not yet been able to garner the funding for its "Fiber to the Premise" (formerly "Fiber to the Home") project.

Funding through a consortium of telecommunications companies collapsed in 2009 after one of the partners dropped out and the city was asked to contribute between $3 million and $5 million per year for the network. City officials decided not to fund it. City Council members have called for little or no expenditure from the city's general fund for the fiber project.

In July 2009, the city considered trying to get $8.8 million in federal-stimulus money, but that plan fell through when funding guidelines restricted the money to Internet-deprived communities.

City officials had hoped a Google fiber-to-the-home project announced last fall for Stanford University would make fiber to Palo Alto the next logical step.

Google announced it would install the fiber network to about 850 on-campus faculty residences. Palo Alto is currently working with Stanford to become the fiber-optic carrier for the project, Josh Wallace, account representative for the city's fiber service, said Wednesday.

In the next two months, the city expects to receive results from two studies evaluating the potential market for a municipal fiber system and to attract private investment dollars.

The city submitted a proposal last week to the Palo Alto Unified School District, seeking to become its fiber-optic Internet carrier, Wallace said.

Google was briefly located in Palo Alto in 1999 and many company executives call Palo Alto home.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann can be e-mailed at sdremann@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Charles, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Just as the above Google Fiber was being posted, Milo Medin, Vice President, Google Access Services provided this update:

"We've heard from some communities that they're disappointed not to have been selected for our initial build (Kansas City). So just to reiterate what I've said many times in interviews: we're so thrilled by the interest we've generated — today is the start, not the end of the project...over the coming months, we'll be talking to other interested cities about the possibility of bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities."

An objective expressed by Google Fiber for Communities was to serve up to 500,000 people. According to the 2010 census, the population of Kansas City, Kansas is about 145,800; for Palo Alto about 64,400.

As City Manager Jim Keene said, "We hold out hope again in the next phase that Google will be thinking about us. We look forward to the opportunity in the next wave" of city selections, he said.


Posted by WilliamR, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 30, 2011 at 8:35 pm

"Everything's up to date in Kansas City......"


Posted by Google fan, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 30, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Google has been following the cell phone tower brouhaha in the city. They have seen the baseless opposition. Google probably feels that there would be a similar luddite outcry about fiber. So why bother dealing with the issues of getting anything done in palo alto when you can do it for an appreciative city. Palo alto shoots itself in the foot again


Posted by William X, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 30, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Look at the location of Kansas city, KA. It's right in the middle of the US. Does Google want to be a tele-comm company?


Posted by Michael Z., a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:59 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Michael Z., a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2011 at 1:29 am

That is definitely a huge flaw of Palo Alto: all those annoying Prius-driving tree lovers that fight anything and everything that relates to city improvements. When there are so many problems out in the rest of the world, some people in Palo Alto can even agree on what type of fountain to build on Cal Ave. I don't understand why people here can't be open to making this city a better place, for example by building a cell tower where there is spotty cell service...


Posted by oooooo, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:45 am

Posted by William X, a resident of the Fairmeadow neighborhood, 5 hours ago

Look at the location of Kansas city, KA. It's right in the middle of the US. Does Google want to be a tele-comm company?


-----------------------

i agree,

so no worries it'll make its way out here soon...


Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2011 at 7:35 am

The Palo Alto process and politics would have made it an improbable choice.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2011 at 8:02 am

Kansas City is a diverse community?


Posted by Enough!, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:28 am

I LOVE you Michael Z....you call it as the quiet minority sees it. You can't throw a rock without hitting a Prius. You should watch Southpark's (not a show I usually watch) Prius episode, called 'Smug Alert.' NAILS IT. Palo Alto has become terribly divisive in the last 15 years.


Posted by Judith, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2011 at 10:52 am

Please don't throw rocks at my Prius.
What does that have to do with anything?


Posted by wish I had a tesla, a resident of Community Center
on Mar 31, 2011 at 11:59 am

It's racial profiling, Judith. The presumption seems to be that anyone who drives a Prius is a pinko.


Posted by Michael Z., a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:01 pm

@Judith:

Part of that comment, and my previous comment, was removed. If it wasn't, you would see how it relates. First I was talking about how Kansas City doesn't deserve that technology because they don't even believe in science in that part of the country, but then I noticed "Google Fans" comment, who pointed out that they do deserve it more than us because here in Palo Alto we just fight over everything that is proposed for this city, and in Kansas they might actually appreciate it unlike us. I agree with google fan, why should we get fiber if we can't even appreciate as much as other places?


Posted by KC Boy, a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Wow, I was truly excited to hear the news from Google yesterday. I was born, raised and still live in KCK. I work on the internet all day long. I believe this will truly improve my job and many like mine.

I am really disappointed in the comments of those who think we are still a cow town. We are a very diverse community both ethnically and financially. We have both poor and rich neighborhoods, Latino, Black and White neighborhoods. We have both poor and rich school districts. We do believe in science and in God. And believe it or not we are mostly Democrat (in fact I don't know for sure but I do not believe any local elected official is Republican). We have industrial plants and commercial shopping. When Mayor Reardon said we are a microcosm of the U.S. he is correct. Our political leadership has been outstanding in the last 10 years at brining new opportunities to KCK. I am proud of what they have accomplished. Please don't hate on us.

As for lessons to be learned. Government needs to be available to help create opportunities, not interfere. Our city government for a long time ran opportunity away. We are now an example of how to do it correctly. Encourage your local officials to imitate us. Assist new business, open doors and remove the red tape and you will be surprised at what could happen.

I wish you luck and hopefully you will be part of the next wave by Google.


Posted by Herb Borock, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:29 pm

"The city submitted a proposal last week to the Palo Alto Unified School District, seeking to become its fiber-optic Internet carrier, Wallace said."

At its March 22, 2011, meeting the school district's Board of Trustees voted to enter into a five-year contract with Comcast for a dark fiber network: Web Link


Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:44 pm

"Kansas City is a diverse community?"

Probably more diverse than Palo Alto.


Posted by Tom, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm


"When you combine these assets with our well-established track record of development partnerships, we feel Kansas City ... is the perfect location for Google to launch its fiber project."

Perhaps Google looked at the "development partnership" Palo Alto has had with Stanford University and especially with Stanford Hospitals. If so, no wonder they looked elsewhere.


Posted by honestly, a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 31, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Why would Google want to deal with Palo Alto Residents aka Crazies?

Again, shame on Palo Alto.


Posted by daniel, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 31, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I still fail to see the connection between driving a Prius and Google's decision. Does it mean that if the majority of vehicles in Palo Alto were US made polluting gasoline guzzlers, the type that's much more popular in Kansas City, Palo Alto would stand a better chance? Or perhaps if the majority here believed that the universe was created in a few days, is 5000 years old and humans rode dinosaurs and Evolution is a communist plot, Goggle would've tapped Palo Alto?


Posted by ChrisC, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:34 am

To KCBoy: Thank you for your update. I am really pleased to hear about the KC demographics. I know you have some great restaurants. Hey, Bradley Ogden became a big name chef there before coming here. Enjoy our high-speed internet.


Posted by JQPublic, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2011 at 6:44 am

Yes, many Google people reside in Palo Alto. Thus, they know what they would've been in for here...

Google wants to execute on their plan. Why would anyone think they'd bother with this lot?


Posted by Wha?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2011 at 11:53 am

So, let me get this straight. Some of you out there don't drive a green vehicle and you hate trees? What is up with that?

Kansas will welcome them with open arms, lots of space to build on, and few complaints. That is NOT the Palo Alto way.


Posted by JO, a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm

It would have been politically/socially incorrect for Google to pick Palo Alto over just about any other City, so I think that blaming a group of individuals in Palo Alto for Google's decision only reflects badly on the finger pointers.


Posted by Robert Smith, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 1, 2011 at 2:50 pm

I don't think that Palo Alto should feel hurt or surprised at this decision.

Given the amount of publicity that Google enjoyed over this offer, and the extraordinary outflow of proposals from cities all over the country, it would have been a PR disaster for Google to pick the city where they first started their business and where many of their executives live. It would have sounded like a setup.

This does not reflect on Palo Alto or the efforts of those who worked on the proposal.


Posted by KCKGirl, a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2011 at 6:52 am

Thanks to KCBoy for stepping in and doing what I was about to do. He's right. Everyone hears Kansas and thinks White, Middle Class, Republican. But we are part of metropolitan Kansas City, are right across the river from Kansas City, Missouri ("THE" Kansas City) and are a very diverse city. We have every racial group you can think of. This town does NOT vote Republican. We have every socio-economic area from urban blight to brand new growing neighborhoods. If a Republican even makes it on the ballot it's amazing.

You would not recognize the city we are now if you were here 20 years ago. We were a depressed economy when every other town in the metro was booming. We had the highest unemployment rate and the highest poverty rate. Everyone who lived in our community lived here because they had to (worked for the city) or they couldn't afford to move. Now, we are one of the few cities in the country who is still growing. We aren't struggling to survive. Our Commissioners saw the economic downturn coming several years ago and started tightening their belts immediately. They didn't raise taxes. They didn't cut services. They did what they were supposed to do,did their jobs and made cuts where they could without effecting day to day operations.

We are SUPER excited to have Google come to our city. We will welcome them with open arms, just like we welcomed the Kansas Speedway when they came looking for a home. Just like the Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) when they came looking for a home. Just like several other entities. We will make it happen for them and for us and WE CAN'T WAIT! Hate on us if you want. We can take it... we're thrilled!!


Posted by Frank, a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm

Perhaps Google prefers to not confine it's self to Silicon Valley in it's outreach to other communities. What wouldn't be more appropriate than the choice of Kansas City? Middle America, it sure sounds great. Sometimes cities like Palo Alto take on an entitlement train of thought when it comes to IT projects like Google's high-speed internet project. C'mon folks get your noses out of the thin air you are inhaling up there.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I think the real reason for Palo Altans to feel a little sore about not getting this from Google is not because we think of ourselves as being better than Kansas, which we are not, or more deserving than Kansas, or even that Google should do something for its neighbor (us) particularly when so many of them live here, but it is because we can't see our City getting anything up to date, innovative, or cutting edge any other way.

Palo Alto may be the heart of Silicon Valley geographically and it might be the homes of those who work for the leading companies. But, in many respects we feel that we are living in the third world.

We can't get good cell phone coverage, decent public transit, useful shopping facilities or even the potholes in the roads mended. It would be nice, for a change, to have something good.


Posted by Sigh, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Apr 4, 2011 at 6:12 am

To KCB: Sad to say, Palo Alto is an extremely bigoted city. I have lived in this "liberal mecca by Stanford" for 25 years, and over that time have come to realize that these folks are highly elitist and bigoted against anyone who doesn't think or act like them. A cowboy hat is a symbol of stupid, a gun a symbol of warmongering rednecks, for example. But showing your butt crack as a male or being nearly naked as a girl, doing drugs,..well that is ok.

The comments you have read are typical of what folks here think. My own child, now 20, told me that s/he would like to travel "south" for the "cultural experience"...truly believing that it would somehow be like travelling to Papua New Guinea or the Ivory Coast or something. The area here is simply like that. Black and white thinking, for example couldn't POSSIBLY understand that one can believe in God AND scientific process AND evolution. They are brainwashed here to believe they are the chosen ones, smarter than everyone else, and know what is best.

BTW, you really don't have to defend KCK as being "mostly Democrat" as if that is a good thing. Around here, being a Democrat is NOT a symbol of high thought, but of following the crowd and emotionally based voting for anything and everything socialist-marxist. It is not the Democrat Party you are thinking of, the one of JFK for example. I was a southern Democrat, a JFK Democrat...now I am an MLK/Reagan Republican. These guys have shown me the error of my former path and where it leads.

Back to the topic. I have no doubt that Palo Alto was NOT chosen, and KCK WAS chosen, because here there is ALWAYS someone who will scream and yell and complain and then our Council or School Board will cave against the screaming minority and make life hell for the progress. It would have happened with the fiber, I am sure. Look at what is happening with our Smart Meters and our Cell Towers..in this mecca of brilliance.


Posted by Anonymous 2, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:22 am

My partner works at Google. When he read about the decision, his first words were, "We considered the Palo Alto process. Duh."

Only here would a city be so INCOMPETENT as to NOT TIME traffic signals, have red lights outside CLOSED schools in the middle of the night, babble about back-in diagonal parking, be dead set on destroying retail, approve stupid intersections like Town & Country, keep raising utility rates to supplement declining sales tax revenues, etc. etc.

Too bad they city forgets about the HUGE infrastructure backlog while it conducts EXPRENSIVE STUDIES about multi-colored cross-walks! IDIOTIC.


Posted by George, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 11:45 am

> We can't get good cell phone coverage,

And how does ultra-fast fiber optics depend on cell phone coverage?

> decent public transit,

Again, what does publicly-subsidized transportation have to do with fiber optic communications system?

> useful shopping facilities

Stanford plaza, downtown Palo Alto and all of the retail on El Camino Real is not "useful"?

> or even the potholes in the roads mended.

This is patently false. Palo Alto does fix its potholes rather quickly. If there are potholes not mended, it's because the residents have failed to contact the City to report the location of the road segment needing attention. Most potholes are fixed in 2-3 days, unless there are jurisdiction issues with the County.

One of Google's stated goals with this project was to identify a town that could use the communications equipment to foster economic growth, by providing a necessary tool to foster startups that would develop new applications that would require ultra-fast Internet service. This means, for instance, on-line shopping applications that would reduce the need for "useful local shopping" .. allowing people to purchase from (possibly) globally-located retail sources.

Other applications involve enhanced telecommuting capabilities, that would allow people to work at home, and not need government subsidies to provide them transportation services.

In short, Google's view of an excellent candidate for this gift is a city that would be entrepreneurial, "hungry", and in need of technology boost that would provide them a "helping hand" in getting to the next level.

Most of the people in Palo Alto yearning for this system seem to be more interested in a handout from Google, rather than seeing this system as a tool to reduce government costs and rethink how they do business in the 21st century. Kansas City seems to have done a better job making their case as the "ideal candidate" to Google than "aging" Palo Alto did.


Posted by litebug, a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Can anyone remember just how long ago Palo Alto started talking about having a fiber optic network? I can tell you it was a LONG time ago because my late husband was, at the time, working in that field and was following the issue closely. He retired at least 10 years ago.

I certainly agree with the person who said the town had changed drastically in the past 15 years. I lived there 38 years and loved it up until about 15 years or so ago when it started losing its charm in both material and non-material ways. Certainly it was changing during the entire time but in mostly positive ways up until about then.

It has not handled growth well at all, in my opinion. Following the rest of the country, it is much more divisive, selfish, mean-spirited and visually ugly. It is just a much less attractive place to live in nearly every respect and we haven't even touched on the outrageous cost of living, with less and less to justify it.

The vibe has changed very significantly, and certainly not for the better. Now people are pilloried for driving a Prius! It's just ridiculous (no,I don't drive a Prius). People in Palo Alto used to be smarter. I'm amazed at some of the ignorant stuff I read on here. It's hard to believe this is Palo Alto. Yes, even over-achieving Palo Alto has "dumbed down" considerably over the years and the people, once forward-looking, can no longer see beyond the ends of their noses. Good luck in meeting the challenges of the future with the attitudes prevalent in Palo Alto at this time. Very sad.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 1:03 pm

George

Since you took examples of my post out of context, I will reply that none of these things have anything to do with Google. What they do show is that Palo Alto has so many poor facilities (yes, look at the condition of San Antonio Road between Charleston and Middlefield) and comparable shopping in Menlo Park and Mountain View as well as losing useful Supercuts on El Camino to turn it into a preschool.

We don't necessarily feel like having a freebie from Google, much more that we would like to have something that is uptodate in our town.


Posted by George, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 1:12 pm

> look at the condition of San Antonio Road between Charleston
> and Middlefield)

There is an on-going refurbishment project (or possibly finished by now) on San Antonio. What exactly are you talking about? Care to actually be specific?

> comparable shopping in Menlo Park and Mountain View

This is a personal opinion. If you want to express such an opinion, OK .. but you have expressed your claim as a "fact". Do you know the difference?

The Internet is disruptive. The whole idea of "local shopping" is quickly becoming a concept of the past. Why would you want to spend time driving here and there to get x-y-z when you can find what you want on the Net, and buy it at probably lower prices--delivered by UPS/FedEx/USPS within a day, or two, to your front door?

As more people find on-line shopping to be more convenient that driving around, expect fewer shops locally. Just like cars disrupted the buggy business, the Internet is providing tools to redesign our communities--like it or not?


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 1:23 pm

George

Have you driven San Antonio westbound between Charleston and Middlefield? If you had you would not need to have it explained.This must be the worst road surface in Palo Alto and it is so torn up by roots that parts are only passable at slow speeds in an ATV. Ok, slight exaggeration. The only part of San Antonio that was improved was between Middlefield and ECR.

You can't get your hair cut on the internet and a kid wants to be able to get a haircut for less than $15. I don't want to buy what I want to cook for dinner tonight, to arrive tomorrow, I want it today, and I like to try my clothes on before buying them, not just from size but how else do I know if the style suits me.

I know the difference between fact and opinion, and the fact is that many people share my opinion on shopping. Just because you are happy shopping at Stanford does not make it a fact that it is useful to me either. Two can play at that game.


Posted by George, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm

> I know the difference between fact and opinion, and the
> fact is that many people share my opinion on shopping

And how many don't?

> This must be the worst road surface in Palo Alto and it
> is so torn up by roots that parts are only passable at slow speeds

"Torn up" .. is this construction, or deterioration?

If the segment you on which you are commenting is not under construction--have you contacted the City to report the problem?

If it is under construction, are there signs that estimate the time frame of the project? If not, have you contacted someone in P/W to ask when the project will be completed?

> driven San Antonio road between ..

Not everyone drives this segment of road. Guess that's not obvious.

> Just because you are happy shopping at Stanford does not make
> it a fact that it is useful to me either

There is a big difference between your first post, and this one. It would save us all a lot of time if you would say what you mean, not expect the rest of us to guess.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

George, you are a troll


Posted by litebug, a resident of another community
on Apr 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm

One definition of TROLL from the Urban Dictionary:

"One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument."

Yup! I think Resident nailed it. We have an annoying troll in this thread.