The Delta Makes A Pitch To Google

by Talk Business ([email protected]) 131 views 

Delta leaders have asked Google to test its theory that high-speed Internet service can be a transformative economic engine in one of the country’s most impoverished regions.

Last year, technology giant Google announced plans to build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks in a small number of trial locations across the country. Northern California and Kansas City were selected for projects, which aim to provide 1 gigabit per second fiber-to-the-home connections.

Google officials have said that the initiative hopes for 3 specific reforms, including:

  • Ease access to public rights-of-way where fiber-optic cables can be laid
  • Ease access to utility poles
  • Enable special service districts to free sections of municipalities from zoning restrictions

Kevin Lo, general manager of access at Google, told a broadband world forum in late September that beyond loosening the regulatory hassle, one of the main reasons for the effort was to improve Internet access and speed to advance Google products, which could alter the business landscape for communities that have fallen behind in the world’s evolving economy.

"We have product managers who are very frustrated. They have apps that don’t work because they don’t have the speeds," Lo said.

Last month, the Delta Regional Authority (DRA) asked Google’s top brass to consider building and testing Google Fiber in the footprint of the 8-state region known for its pockets of abject poverty and economic decline.  The DRA, which was created by Congress nearly a decade ago, is charged with advancing the economic and health interests of 252 counties and parishes in Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

In a Sept. 12 letter addressed to Google, Inc. CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, DRA federal co-chairman Chris Masingill made his pitch.

"We listened with interest that Google has already decided to test its network project in both northern California and Kansas City. But we strongly believe that the Delta – more than perhaps any other region across the country – can accomplish the key goal of your project: demonstrate the overall economic impact and growth that access to high-speed Internet has on a region, its small business owners and entrepreneurs," wrote Masingill.

"The Delta’s information technology challenges are a barrier to economic growth in the region. That reality cannot be understated. But the Delta’s reality is an opportunity for Google and Google Fiber," the letter added. "Simply put, if Google truly wants to demonstrate the economic and educational paradigm shift created by access to the Internet, then it needs to begin with an underserved community. Our farmers and entrepreneurs, our students and workers, and our small business owners and large corporations have more to gain from a major investment in high-speed Internet than perhaps any group in the nation."

Masingill said that the DRA and community leaders in its footprint would work to streamline construction and regulatory requirements for the Google Fiber project. He also suggested that "Delta communities and entrepreneurs need a committed, long-term business partner."

And of course, an invitation from the Delta to any group or business would be incomplete without some reference to the musical heritage of the region.

"Google’s plan to deliver high-speed Internet to communities over the long-run is music to our ears. We hope the Delta will be music to your ears too," the letter stated.

You can read the full letter at this link.