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Silicon Prairie: Google broadband spurs Kansas City 'startup village'

Posting in Cities

Google's high-speed broadband project -- Google Fiber -- is kick-starting a high-tech entrepreneurial boomlet in Kansas City. (Both on the Kansas and Missouri sides.)

The Wall Street Journal's Jack Nicas reports that the wiring project -- which commenced in September -- is already boosting an influx of startups seeking the faster networking capabilities.

Google says its Fiber network offers up to 1,000 Mb/sec download and upload, which is up to 100 times faster Internet comparison is based on average American download speeds of 5.8 Mb/second (as cited in Akamai’s State of the Internet 4Q2011).

Google is rolling out the service based on the rankings of pre-registrations for the service in the Kansas City area. The first "fiberhoods" to be enabled are Spring Valley and Hanover Heights, which are near the University of Kansas Medical Center. As a result, Nicas reports, tech entrepreneurs are being drawn to the area:

"Since [Google's] September announcement, a handful of players from the local technology scene have come together to turn the old antique district into Kansas City's 'startup village.' By the time Google began installing its Fiber service on Tuesday, nearly a dozen startups had moved into a six-block radius—about half packed into two houses—including companies building a search engine for social-network data and security software for smartphones that identifies users by vein patterns in their eyes."

The Kansas City-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which publishes ongoing research on entrepreneurial trends, is active in helping to promote the startup village.

There apparently are startups from across the country looking for space within the startup village area. As Nicas observes in his report, a Boston-based tech entrepreneur working on building a software platform to design products for 3D printers has been drawn to KC as a result of the emerging startup culture and Google Fiber. "Silicon Valley and Boston are getting saturated" and too expensive, he says.

When will the rest of the world see Google Fiber?  The network is also available to a limited area near the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California. But the project is a physical one that incurs tangles with local officials over issues with rights of way and regulations. Perhaps by the time much of the nation is finally wired with Google Fiber, we may not need local connections, with all data and communications enabled over some powerful and fast 5G (or 6G?) wireless network.

(Photo: Wikipedia.)

— By on November 15, 2012, 12:57 AM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure