With 7,000 households and 23 qualified fiberhoods, Google Fiber is off to a great start. However, a clear digital divide is quickly emerging with the vast majority of qualified fiberhoods along the affluent State Line corridor.
So far fiberhood map only shows a couple of qualified areas east of Troost in KCMO or in inside I-635 in KCK. Not only is the magic threshold a requirement for getting fiber, the fiberhoods that go the furthest past the threshold will be first in line to get hooked up. Right now those rankings are dominated by Brookside and Ward Parkway neighborhoods.
Google is responding to the emerging digital divide by announcing an expansion into affluent Johnson County in the small enclaves of Westwood, Westwood Hills, and Mission Woods.
But it’s not all roses in The Corridor. Many residents of apartment and condo buildings are reporting trouble signing. It seems Google assumed everyone here in flyover country lives in a single family home and not a fancy-pants high rise. The Pitch’s Jason Kendell explains what do to if you run into this roadblock.
A few tidbits and clarifications to the Google Fiber installation process, gathered from various random places…
The first phase focuses on residential neighborhoods in eastern KCK and the core of KCMO (South of the River within the I-435 loop). Northlanders, it sucks to be you!
Google is only going into neighborhoods (a.k.a. fiberhoods) where a significant number of residents express interest by pre-registering. If your neighborhood doesn’t meet Google’s minimum threshold, then no fiber for you. So rally your neighbors!
The first phase is a one-time opportunity. Each neighborhood gets one installation, so if you wait until after September you will miss the chance to get fiber hooked up to your home. There is no information on installation options after the initial rollout.
The neighborhood registration contest is already raising equity issues. Most of the neighborhoods to reach the threshold so far are wealthy areas along the Ward Parkway corridor or gentrified parts of Midtown. It will be hard for folks in low income areas to take advantage of the free Internet service offer if their neighborhood is on the wrong side of the digital divide and can’t get enough folks registered before the deadline. Hopefully Google has a plan for being more inclusive beyond the current game.
Installation will be prioritized based on the number of pre-registrations in each neighborhood. After your fiberhood crosses the magic threshold, keep rallying your neighbors to get a place at the front of the line.
The first KCK fiberhoods will get hooked up this fall, with the first KCMO fiberhoods coming in early 2013.
The first phase is focused on residential service, but business plans are expected to be announced in the near future. Small businesses in a fiberhood can get access when the homes are hooked up.
If you live in a more commercial neighborhood the pre-registration system may not let you sign up. You might have to visit the Google Fiber Space to get registered. Residents of Downtown and Midtown highrises have reported their addresses being disqualified.
The first phase of 39Rainbow, the mixed-use project at 39th and Rainbow in KCK, is almost finished and the second phase is now underway. Holiday Inn and Five Guys are almost ready open, and the Biz Journal just announced that the KU Hospital will be leasing space in the second phase.
This evening the area of Westport Road and State Line Road is a beehive of activity as Google puts the finishing touches on a new facility on the northeast corner of the intersection. The location is right on the KCMO/KCK border, and the adjacent Volker/Midtown and Rosedale neighborhoods have had many Google Fiber contractor crews working in recent months.
The former home of Scott Fitness has been undergoing a rehab in recent weeks, but no information was available in the City’s online permits database. Now we know Google Fiber is the tenant, though we will have wait until tomorrow’s big event to find out the exact use of the new KC Googleplex.
Kevin Collison reports in the Star that Whole Foods has confirmed a new store on West 51st Street between Oak and Brookside Boulevard in the South Plaza neighborhood, adjacent to the UMKC campus. BlogKC broke the news almost three years ago.
Today’s announcement confirms the details of a mixed-use project – five stories, apartments and UMKC office space above the grocery, replacing the UMKC annex building and a large surface parking lot. One sticking point may be a request for an additional driveway onto Brookside Boulevard and across the popular Trolley Track Trail.
The Star mentions opposition from Vicki Noteis, a neighborhood resident and former City Planning Director, who doesn’t like the density. This location has long been planned for denser uses and is a good Transit Oriented Development considering it is on the MAX bus rapid transit line and at the terminus of the streetcar’s second phase.
The Gigabit Challenge was an interesting contest for business plans that take advantage Google’s upcoming 1 gigabit fiber optic network in Kansas City. Unfortunately no local companies won, and the most of the prize money is flowing of town and out of the country.
The challenge was hyped as a way to generate new ideas for the super fast network and jump start local tech business in anticipation of Google Fiber going live later this year. Top prizes went to companies from Chicago and New York, one of which plans to use the prize money to open an office in Berlin. The only “local” winner is a Grandview company, located outside the initial Google Fiber service area.
The winning companies will ultimately have to setup at least some local presence in order to connect the network. But putting a server in a local data center is a far cry from creating new jobs or having any real impact on the technology or business community.
KC Business Journal: Gigabit Challenge shows demand for network, short supply of local winners.
Today the City Council approved a plan to pay for the Downtown Streetcar with a mix of taxes on sales, property, and parking lots adjacent to its route along Main Street. Downtown residents will likely vote in April to approve the plan and form a Transportation Development District. $75 million in local money is expected to be matched with $25 million in federal funds. If all goes well the streetcar could be running between the River Market and Crown Center in 2015.
Downtown Streetcar study
Business Journal: KC Council proposes special district to help pay for streetcar