One of the most wired cities in the Northwest is pursuing an offer by Google to make super-fast Internet service available to homes and business in the community -- at speeds up to 100 times faster than the current standard.
The City of Bellevue has announced it will seek to become a test site for a project by Google, the Internet search giant, to offer super-fast, fiber-optic broadband service at a competitive price for up to 500,000 people.
To help attract Google, city officials are urging residents to log on to the project website and fill out a survey about how they currently connect to the Internet. Filling out the survey demonstrates community support for the project, one of the criteria Google will use in selecting a community for its broadband service.
Another way residents can express support for the Google proposal is to post a comment on the city's Facebook page or upload a short video to YouTube that expresses support for the Google project coming to Bellevue.
Backers of the effort say building such a network -- an investment potentially worth several hundred million dollars -- would allow users to move information over the Internet at the rate of 1 gigabit per second, a huge technological leap.
The goal of Google's Fiber for Communities project "is to experiment with new ways to help make Internet access better and faster for everyone." For residents and others in Bellevue, which has long sought a citywide fiber optic network, ultra high-speed broadband offers several benefits:
- Movie downloads: At a speed of 1 gigabit per second, film buffs could download a high-quality movie in as little as 8 seconds.
- Increased competition: An "open-access" broadband network like the one Google proposes would provide access to multiple service providers, promoting competition and helping consumers.
- Tele-everything: A fiber-optic network opens up the possibility of more efficient telecommuting; high-definition video conferencing; new interactions among students and teachers; and streaming medical imaging over the web.
- Economic development: New applications not even dreamed up yet could boost the prospects for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
- Intelligent Transportation system: Fiber connecting the city's network of traffic signals would offer new possibilities for managing Bellevue's transportation system more efficiently.
"Bellevue would be an excellent city to demonstrate the true potential of an ultra high-speed broadband system," said Bellevue City Manager Steve Sarkozy. "Our residents are creative and our businesses have a proven track record of innovation. We're well-positioned to showcase the benefits that Google's project would bring.
"In addition to city government itself, we have several organizations that could take advantage of beefed up broadband capacity," Sarkozy continued. "Some examples are Bellevue College, Overlake Hospital, Puget Sound Energy, and the many cutting-edge technology companies based in Bellevue."
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