Google set to reveal 'fiberhood' winners

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) said that 180 out of 202 possible neighborhoods in the twin Kansas Cities (Missouri and Kansas) have "reached their goals" and qualified to become "fiberhoods," the first participants in the company's high-speed broadband fiber network.

"This number has blown us away--and it's not even the final tally. We're still processing some final address verification requests and pre-registrations from apartment buildings and condos," wrote Kevin Lo, general manager of Google Access, in a Google Fiber blog post.

Lo promised that the more-than-just-a-search-engine company will announce the first batch of fiberhoods Thursday, including "the order in which they'll be constructed, along with more detail about the next steps."

Those next steps, no doubt, will include when the ultra-high-speed services will be turned on; a final list of available Google Fiber TV channels and some other details that will be worked out for neighborhoods with a population that met Google's subscription goals and paid a $10 qualification fee.

Google apparently made a last-ditch effort--calling it a "rally"--to enlist more neighborhoods after some local reports suggested some of the more disadvantaged areas of the cities wouldn't make the list. Those neighborhoods might have squeaked in as the Google deadline approached and passed, but they are probably still down on the list behind the more prosperous neighborhoods that immediately jumped on the fiber bandwagon.

"Three fiberhoods reached their goals on the very first day of our announcement and from there you just took off, encouraging your friends and neighbors to pre-register," Lo wrote. "The momentum has been terrific--63 fiberhoods qualified in the past week alone."

Qualified customers aren't getting anything free. They will have the opportunity to pay for one of three packages: $120 per month for TV and high-speed Internet; $70 per month for high-speed Internet alone (both with free installation); or $300 for installation and seven years of broadband Internet at "today's average Internet speeds," Lo said. Google also will connect libraries, schools and community buildings selected by the cities in the qualified fiberhoods.

Lo wrote that conversations across the region with Kansas City residents revealed that many weren't enamored with the Internet or its potential.

"[O]ffering an affordable service is only one step towards increasing Internet access. In fact, studies show that the main reason people don't want the Internet is that they don't think the web is relevant," he wrote.

Now, he promised, they'll get the opportunity--as long as they're among the 89 percent or so who qualified.

"Some fiberhoods won't qualify this time around. If you live in one of those fiberhoods, we want you to know that we've heard your concerns. We will include you in a future rally sometime next year when you can try to qualify for Fiber again," he promised those who may not have any Internet access.

For more:
-see this Google blog
-read this Kansas City Star story

Related articles:
Google Fiber could actually widen digital divide in Kansas City
Google Fiber pre-registrations crack 30% penetration in 6 Kansas City neighborhoods