Out of an estimated 1,100 applications to Google to be the pilot city for Google Fiber, Ann Arbor currently ranks fourth in community support levels.
And the hype surrounding bringing the high-speed, fiber-to-home network that Google claims is “100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today” to Ann Arbor isn’t going to die down any time soon, Ann Arbor officials and students say.
According to fiberforall.org — a website that advocates for all internet users to have fiber-optic service — Ann Arbor is trailing behind another Michigan city: second-place Grand Rapids. Google is currently tracking the popularity of Google Fiber for Communities through support for the project on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Though the company is keeping track, Google has not specified whether this support will contribute to its city selection.
Google officials plan to announce the cities chosen for the Google Fiber for Communities — the official name for the Google Fiber pilot project — by the end of the year. The aim of the project, according to the its website, is to “learn lessons from this experiment that will help improve Internet access everywhere.”
Cities were able to apply to become a trial location for the project in March, and Ann Arbor was abuzz when the University, city officials, DTE Energy and Ann Arbor SPARK — a company that helps and promotes entrepreneurs — combined efforts to apply for the opportunity.
Ann Arbor Chief Financial Officer Tom Crawford said the city is currently waiting to hear which locations Google will chose. He estimated that of the 1,100 Google received a selected group of those applications will be looked at in more detail. Google employees will probably scope out potential Google Fiber communities, he said.
“So we’re waiting to see and we’re excited to hear, hopefully, if we’re on the ‘short list,’” he said.
While Google has not said how many cities will be selected as winners, the project’s website said it will reach between 50,000 and 500,000 people.
Crawford, who helped fill out the application, said he and other members of the community gathered data on the city and had the opportunity to write a few essays about why Ann Arbor should be chosen. The essays are available at www.a2fiber.com.
“We have an intelligent community in Ann Arbor (that) is already highly wired,” Crawford said. “There’s just a tremendous amount of opportunity here, and I think it would be fantastic for Ann Arbor and for Google.”
Rackham student Augie Hill, a member of the “Ann Arbor for Google Fiber” Facebook group which had members as of late last night, said he thinks Ann Arbor would benefit greatly by becoming a Google Fiber trial location.
“Making Ann Arbor the first place in the world for the next round of technological improvements would bring much attention, opportunity and prosperity to the city and region,” Hill said.