Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Palo Alto Wants A Google Net, Broadband Stimulus Not So Much 02/23/2010 San Francisco - The City Council of Palo Alto, CA voted last night to apply to Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) for a high capacity fiber network funded by the company. The city simultaneously announced it will not apply for federal broadband stimulus funding, following high level petitions to the agencies running the stimulus program over the last several months.

Palo Alto Vice Mayor Sid Espinosa
The city thus became one of the scores of American communities that have responded to Google's call for municipal networking partners as the tech leader continues to reboot the agendas for U.S. broadband competition, policy, and technology.

Last evening the Council, the governing legislative body of the Santa Clara County community of 58,000 population, voted to directly apply to Google for a high capacity fiber network as part of the firm's announced program to build such systems in selected cities around the nation. The votes in Council are the latest moves in what Palo Alto Online calls the city's multi-year "fruitless and frustrating quest for a citywide high-speed Internet network."

As we reported in April of 2009, the City Council voted at that time to cancel its contract with Axia NetMedia Corporation (TSX: AXX), a Canadian network developer and operator previously hired to build the proposed municipal fiber system with a financing partner. Also in April, just as the federal stimulus program was getting underway, the Council moved to position the city to apply for broadband stimulus project funding.

Following the April vote, the city petitioned both the California congressional delegation and the two agencies managing the federal broadband stimulus effort to seek funding allowances for specialized high capacity networks supporting community anchor institutions in "technology corridors" around the nation. Last night city officials stated they saw the federal funding application route as not holding promise, given the burden a heavily wired community like Palo Alto faces to demonstrate a broadband underserved profile.

Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, is directly adjacent to the City of Mountain View, CA, home to the headquarters of Google itself. Perhaps agreeing with our assessment earlier this month that his city would be a perfect fit for Google's broadband ambitions, Palo Alto's Vice Mayor called out over live cable television access programming last night in hopes the Googleplex was listening.

The San Jose Mercury News reported this morning that Vice Mayor and council member Sid Espinosa said, "If Google is out there listening, if any decision-makers are there and paying attention, we as a city are ready to move quickly to make this a reality."

"We have a commitment to this type of goal and program, and we have worked on this in a grassroots way and an organized way for many years," concluded Espinosa in the Mercury News story. 

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