Mayor Mick Cornett and representatives from Google gathered on the rooftop of the Oklahoma City Museum of Art Wednesday to announce Google Fiber, a high-speed internet service, might come to Oklahoma City.
On a clear, blue afternoon with the Oklahoma City skyline as his backdrop, Cornett said Google has been in town for weeks, exploring the sophistication of the city and gathering data about infrastructure and the ease of doing business.
"This is going to be a catalyst that is going to enlarge the economy. The tech revolution is still taking place," Cornett said. "We have a number of IT companies here that are in the beginning stages of something very, very impressive. They need this type of backbone to grow the company in the manner they want. And all of that filters down."
Google Fiber is best known for its high-speed fiber-optic internet service, with download and upload speeds of 1,000 megabits-per-second. Google Fiber's Director of Expansion Jill Szuchmacher says that's 83 times faster than the average U.S. broadband speed. The company also offers television and stripped-down internet packages.
Szuchmacher said Google first began talking with Oklahoma City a few weeks ago because of its thriving entrepreneurial sector, and strong leadership in Cornett and city manager Jim Couch.
"We reached out to see if the city was interested in exploring with us. We were very pleased that they said yes, and here we are," Szuchmacher said.
Google Fiber is currently available in Austin, Kansas City, and Provo, Utah. The company is working to bring service to 12 cities, including Nashville, Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham, Charlotte, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, and so far hasn't turned down anyone.
"There may be topography issues, there may be challenges in terms of accessing local, existing infrastructure," Szuchmacher said. "That's what this process is really meant to uncover and explore."
Google would have to lay thousands of miles of underground fiber-optic cables before the system will be ready for consumers. Cornett said he doesn't see any challenges other than minor construction inconveniences, although the city hasn't been laying this type of fiber previously. He said private sector firms may have to fill their own internal needs.
As for Oklahoma City residents' role in the decision-making process, Cornett says they've already done their part over the past two decades.
"If the citizens of Oklahoma City hadn't passed MAPS and the 20 other things they've done over the past 20-plus years, then we wouldn't be standing here today," Cornett said. "Google has options all over the world. They've chosen Oklahoma City, and we should all feel good about it."
Cornett said the quality of life in Oklahoma City would be improved by the number of jobs this would bring in, although he didn't offer specific figures. He expects the network to be rolled out in various stages across the city, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Google should make a definitive announcement about bringing the Google Fiber service to Oklahoma City within the next few months. Once plans are finalized, the high-speed internet could be ready as early 12 months from that point. There aren't any plans to expand the service beyond Oklahoma City at this point.
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