Google's invitation to American communities to apply to have high-speed fiber-optic networks installed has rekindled Palo Alto's 15-year vision of providing fast, reliable fiber access to homes and businesses citywide.
The City Council tonight will take up the Google proposal and observers of the long history of fiber are betting the council will jump for the proposal.
Google founders started their now-global business in Menlo Park and Google's first commercial office was on University Avenue in downtown Palo Alto.
A plan developed by a Canadian consortium, headed by Calgary-based Axia, fell apart in March 2009 due to financing problems and pending huge projects in Singapore and Australia -- projects that never materialized.
But the concept developed by the consortium is almost identical to the concept outlined by Google -- involving actual installation of fiber throughout the community to develop an "open access" (open to anyone) system that would be the basis for experimentation with new ways for communities to communicate. Access speeds would be up to 1 gigabit per second.
Google announced its "Fiber to Communities Initiative" on Feb. 10, and the Palo Alto city staff is recommending that the council go after one of the grants, in spite of expected fierce competition.
The city staff is asking the council to allow it to drop an application for federal stimulus funds so it could concentrate on the Google application, due by March 26.