Mid-Michigan may soon be one of the many areas that are slated to benefit from the United States’ push for Internet-related technological ingenuity. Internet giant Google has embraced the cutting-edge potential of fiber optic networking and has created a program to pioneer and distribute the new medium of Internet service through local Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) nationwide. East Lansing and Lansing City Councils held a town hall meeting in the Hannah Community Center Thursday to promote Mid-Michigan’s candidacy for Google’s program.
Here’s the Google explanation of how the fiber network would work:
The Internet was conceived after the launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik by the United States’ Advanced Research Projects Agency in 1958. The rest is history. Today, the United States is in an ironic position, sitting in 15th in terms of international Internet speed according to a 2008 study released by the nonpartisan think-tank, the Information and Technology Innovation Foundation. South Korea and Japan currently have the fastest Internet speeds in the world.
“For the country that invented the Internet, it’s a shame that other countries have Internet that is 100 times faster,” Lansing City Council Vice President Kathie Dunbar said.
Google’s initiative plans to reverse that trend. As the project has nationwide implications, the possible benefits for Mid-Michigan, including the Lansing area and Michigan State University, are remarkable.
“University research programs and off-campus students benefit from faster direct-to-home fiber Internet,” East Lansing City Councilmember Nathan Triplett said.
Michigan State already has Internet networked throughout campus in dorms and school buildings that is not fiber optic. While fiber networking is only being discussed for homes, businesses and off-campus students at the moment, the implementation of fiber optic Internet throughout the United States could easily replace the current system.
Mid-Michigan communities have been raising awareness of the March 26 deadline for the region’s Request for Information submission to Google, detailing the area’s specific needs and ideas in relation to the project. The communities involved include Lansing, East Lansing, Lansing Township, Meridian Township, Delta Township and Delhi.
“We’re working on getting the community involved through social media, public hearings, town halls and other non-traditional means,” Triplett said.
Other communities around the nation are vying for Google’s offer, but some have failed to convert to higher Internet speeds over bureaucratic chaos such as San Francisco.
“[The Google project is] a $40 million gift and San Francisco argued too much,” Dunbar said. “People argue over the color of the wrapping paper, we’ll say thank you.”
At the municipal level, Google will defer installation and infrastructural configuration and logistics to local companies. Present at the town hall were Kevin Schoen, the CEO of ACD.net, a local ISP and Jason Schreiber, president of Arialink, another local ISP.
“Arialink wants a 300 mile fiber optic network in the Lansing area to serve the community,” Schreiber said. “Google is validating our business model. We’re building cable for every home in area for an incredible upgrade in capacity.”
The schematics of fiber optic networking revolve around a collection of wires that respectively connect around a thousand customers (as opposed to 100 DSL customers on a single wire). Installation in individual homes is minimal — a hub not much larger than a business router is put in. The wires are placed a foot underground but protected and marked. Estimates put the installation of a potential network at 250,000 households in one year. It is also estimated to be a $500 million investment.
Jeff Smith, East Lansing’s New Economy Initiatives Project Manager presented a video of Google executives introducing a new Internet interface called ‘Google Wave’ at fiber optic speeds at the town hall meeting. Google Wave is being promoted as the next dimension of recreational and business-related communication with the addition of multimedia support.
“Google Wave needs a medium,” Smith said. “[Fiber optics] can make it the tip of iceberg of what could be.”
Notes: More information is available here. As a disclaimer, the Editor of this publication has shamelessly submitted a video promoting Google Fiber in her area, and Global View editor Theresa Gasinski attended the meeting to promote its installation.