Ventura campaigns for Google Fiber

Gibbs discusses how his city, Ventura, California, has responded to the Google Fiber for Communities Request for Information

Well, here we are, just a couple of days away from the deadline for cities and towns to make the pitch to Google as to why they should be selected to participate in the Google Fiber for Communities effort.

Google Fibre draws another bid

If you haven't heard about the project, the intention is to provide competitively priced fiber to the home much like Verizon's FIOS except at 1Gbps in both directions (FIOS currently supports 50Mbps downstream and 25Mbps upstream). Google's plan is to wire up something around 500,000 consumers, businesses and local governments in a select number of cities.

There's much speculation as to what Google's end game might be. The only theory I've heard that makes sense is that it will be a major political statement on net neutrality because the service will, of course, have no traffic shaping or service restrictions that some of the major ISPs quite obviously would love to have in their own networks.

Here in sunny Ventura, Calif., a classic Southern California beach town, a number of us geekier folks jumped on this project within a few hours of its Feb. 10 launch. Along with a handful of fellow geeky citizens, I immediately made my personal appeal and then started contacting everyone I know to get involved.

Ventura City staff was already on it and within a few days we had the first action committee meeting in the Ventura Ventures Technology Center (V2TC).

I must make a quick digression here to explain that V2TC is a high-tech incubator created by the city of Ventura and the Ventura Chamber of Commerce. As far as I know, Ventura Ventures is unique in being a venture fund formed by the city in partnership with a private fund, DFJ Frontier, to invest in local ventures.

Ventura Ventures and the incubator are already producing some interesting new companies, including Lottay, an online donation service, Geodelic, a location aware service that lists useful information about your current location, and a handful of stealth-mode start-ups.

Anyway, following the meeting, city staff developed a presentation for the city council session on the following Monday (Feb. 22). A number of us spoke and encouraged the council to support the initiative and so they did. The mayor noted that passing the motion at 07:32 p.m. made Ventura the first city in California to commit to responding to the Google Request For Information (the only city to beat Ventura to the punch in the whole U.S. was, so I understand, Philadelphia).

Since then there has been a huge amount of activity. Ventura now has a Google Profile, a Facebook presence, a Google Group, and a Twitter account.

Various groups and individuals have published videos on YouTube petitioning Google (you can see our mayor, Bill Fulton, pitching) and hundreds turned out with "Ventura [hearts] Google" signs at the St. Patrick's Day parade. The city's response is about to be sent in about, as of this writing, two days before the deadline.

Needless to say, when it comes to trying to seduce Google, Ventura has a lot of competition. But why would Ventura be an ideal choice? Well, the population is the right size (just over 106,000), it has an excellent existing fiber infrastructure which can be enhanced with minimal fuss and politics, and the public interest is enormous.

Whether Ventura gets Google Fiber or not, the whole response process has been a fantastic way to get citizens enthusiastic, engaged and motivated. Ventura is on its way to becoming a 21st Century city with a comprehensive online city presence and a thriving high-tech sector. Google Fiber would be the icing on an already well-baked cake.

Gibbs is happy to be in Ventura, Calif. Tell backspin@gibbs.com how much you'd like to be there.

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