Students may soon find Facebook pages loading with startlingly high speed during difficult Friday morning classes. Ann Arbor is currently being considered as a potential location for the trial run of Google Fiber for Communities, which aims to bring ultra-high-speed Internet to communities across the nation. The competition to be a Google Fiber test city is fierce. But with its highly educated population and the resources available through the University, Ann Arbor is an ideal location for Google to pilot the Google Fiber program. The local community should support this initiative to bring an opportunity for economic growth and improved resources to Ann Arbor and the University.
On Monday, the Ann Arbor City Council unanimously passed a resolution urging Google to choose Ann Arbor as one of the locations for the trial program Google Fiber for Communities. Google Fiber seeks to build an expansive high-speed, fiber-to-home network infrastructure in selected communities that would provide Internet with a connection it claims is 100 times faster than the norm. The resolution doesn’t ensure that the city will be chosen, but Google has stated that the support of the community will be one of factors it considers in the assessment of trial cities. Ann Arbor faces competition from cities across the country, including Google, Kansas — formally known as Topeka before the mayor changed the city’s name for the duration of March.
But even without publicity stunts like Topeka’s name change, Ann Arbor is uniquely qualified to be the site of Google’s new venture. Because the city is home to a highly-educated community and one of the state’s three major research universities, the impact of the new technology could be seen in Ann Arbor more fully than in other places. The University could also provide Google with resources for the project’s growth. And city residents — many of whom are employed at the University — are particularly capable to evaluate Google Fiber’s effectiveness. Google Fiber should tap into the innovative power of Ann Arbor.
The University could also benefit from Google fiber. The online infrastructure would open up new research opportunities once deemed too time-consuming — or even impossible — without a faster Internet connection. And the University has expressed excitement over the prospect of faster access to medical records for the University Health System. This will improve the quality of care received by those who rely on these health services.
Google’s investment in Ann Arbor could also provide an economic stimulus to the state. Local businesses would gain a competitive edge armed with the higher speeds and would be able to cut their costs and offer better services. And, most importantly, the venture could bring more jobs to the city.
Community backing is crucial to Ann Arbor’s selection. Supporters should fill out a form online at the Google Fiber homepage to nominate Ann Arbor. They can also join fan pages on Facebook or Twitter or compete in contests on YouTube to advocate for the city as Google’s choice. Given the potential benefits that Google Fiber could offer, the community should support efforts to bring it to the city. After all, it would be in the best interest of students’ needs for ultra high-speed Facebook access.