The race to be one of Google Fiber’s pilot sites has inspired a lot of excitement in cities vying for the new Internet service. Ann Arbor — which has yet to change its name for the cause, unlike Topeka, Kansas — is still in the running to receive this ultra-high-speed Internet. Google Fiber would provide fiber-to-home network that is said to run 100 times faster than most Internet services currently available. Bringing Google Fiber to Ann Arbor would have huge benefits for students, the University and the city as a whole. The community should continue its enthusiasm, and Google should see that Ann Arbor is the right city to test Google Fiber.

According to the Sept. 12 article in the Daily, Ann Arbor currently ranks fourth in community support levels for the effort to attract Google Fiber. Another Michigan city in the running is Grand Rapids, which currently ranks second. These rankings, which come from fiberforall.org, measure community support by way of social media websites, tracking statistics such as Facebook group members and Twitter followers. There is currently no information regarding whether these rankings will impact Google’s choice for a pilot city. Google has said that it will announce which cities it has selected to test the new fiber-optic Internet service by the end of 2010.

As a research university, the University of Michigan would benefit greatly from an opportunity like this one. Faster Internet would mean easier access to data and information, something that would benefit almost every program at the University. Google would also benefit by testing the network in a city full of innovative and knowledgeable researchers, students and businesses.

The University would certainly benefit from Google Fiber — researchers and students would have access to more information at a faster rate. Google Fiber would be a particularly valuable asset to University Health Service by providing faster and easier access to health records. With such a large student body and community relying on UHS, faster access to records would make this important resource function even more efficiently.

And Google already has roots in Ann Arbor. Its AdWords is headquartered downtown and one of its co-founders is a University graduate. Piloting Google Fiber in a city that the company is already tied to would ensure easy functioning and easy access to data for Google — benefits that other cities can’t offer. This win-win situation would facilitate a more accurate and simple testing process. And with high levels of community support, Google can be sure that residents would be ready and willing to help the company with its efforts to study and improve Google Fiber.

Ann Arbor has more to offer in terms of community support and testability qualities than other nominees, making it uniquely qualified to serve as a pilot city for Google Fiber. The University and its surrounding community remain dependent on high-quality Internet access for student work, research and health services. With advantages like these, there’s no need for Ann Arbor to change its name to prove that it’s top in the running to become Google Fiber’s test city.

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