Davis pushes for experimental Google high-speed Internet

On Feb. 10, Google launched its search for candidates to test Google Fiber, an experimental high-speed Internet network. The Davis community is set on putting the city on the map to win.

Google will construct and test the fast broadband networks in one or several locations across the nation. They promise 1 gigabit per second connections to the winning communities of between 50,000 and 500,000 people.

Their Internet would be 50 times more rapid than the fastest plans currently offered in Davis.

Students at UC Davis are pushing for Davis – with its population of over 62,000 in 2008, according to census data on the city’s website – to get the nomination. They have set up a Facebook group and a Davis Wiki page to promote their cause.

For advocates, the idea of high speed Internet offers exciting possibilities.

“The idea of Internet that’s over 100 times faster than what we currently consider broadband is just mind-boggling,” said Evan Sangaline, a physics graduate student who is participating in the effort. “Sure, it will let us download high quality movies in seconds, but it could potentially create whole new ways that we use the Internet that we can’t even imagine yet.”

Google hopes developers and users will experiment with the high-speed environment to create the next generation of applications and services. They also hope it will serve as an example for further network development.

Manuel Sanchez, a UC Davis professor of physics, said ultra-fast Internet might prove useful in his field of high-energy physics.

He also thinks this new technology might allow for greater communication between academics.

“Certainly the potential for easing collaboration can be enhanced in ways that are not possible right now,” Sanchez said.

UC Davis and the Davis community are also engaged in a concerted effort to convince Google to set up the new network here.

Steve McMahon, vice president of the Davis Community Network (DCN) and member of the Davis Telecommunications Commission said UC Davis, Davis, the Davis Joint Unified School District and the DCN are working to submit one or several statements of interest for Google to consider.

As one close to the endeavor, he feels Davis possesses unique advantages that will help it get nominated.

He believes Davis has an extensive history of supporting and experimenting with community telecommunications technology. McMahon thinks this, coupled with a high concentration of residents linked with higher education and developed local Internet content, makes Davis a competitive candidate.

“Google’s all about content,” McMahon said. “Both DCN and the Davis Wiki are unique for small cities in their development of local content. This is a community that creates content, not just consumes it.”

McMahon said opposition might come from apartment building owners and community groups with strong ties to existing Internet providers. Homeowners might also resist digging and trenching if the Internet network was laid down.

The deadline to submit expressions of interest is March 26. For more information concerning Google Fiber, visit google.com/appserve/fiberrfi.

LESLIE TSAN can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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