Gaga for Google broadband

Olga Kharif
03 Mar 2010

Jobs and business opportunities

By providing faster download speeds, Google's Internet access may help create jobs and business opportunities, local companies say. On Feb. 25, Topeka restaurant The Break Room, which sells panini and wraps, hosted a Google Fiber party and gave free dinner coupons to the first 20 people who filled out an online petition. "We are from here, born here, and want to see our home do as well as possible," says co-owner Chris Schultz.

Universities in Kirksville, Mo., are brainstorming telemedicine and learning applications they can run over Google's fiber-optic lines. David Troy, who owned an Internet service provider in Baltimore before selling it in 2004, says he might launch a broadband TV channel or a gaming network.

Some applicants are trying to make a more direct appeal. National Public Radio contributor and Baltimore activist Mario Armstrong says he will call on Google officials in nearby Washington the week of Mar. 8 to ensure he's interpreting the application correctly. Advocates in Lansing, Mich., urged East Lansing High School to lobby its famous alumnus, Google co-founder Larry Page. The school's principal, Paula Steele, couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Back in Topeka, which for the month of March renamed itself "Google, Kansas," Starkey is ramping up efforts. He recently implored local acoustic guitar soloist Andy McKee to compose a Topeka Google Fiber song. "We haven't heard back yet," Starkey says. Undeterred, Starkey is already planning another overture.

With Brian Womack in San Francisco. Kharif is a reporter for Bloomberg BusinessWeek in Portland, Ore.


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