Time Warner has employees sussing out Google's K.C. plans

Curiosity about what Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) up to in Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri) has gotten the better of the town's incumbent pay TV and Internet provider, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC).

According to a story on KansasCity.com following up reports by GigaOM and other blogs, TWC is encouraging employees to "share tips, rumors and rumblings about Google construction or launch activities."

The cable company isn't hiding anything; it's hung posters in its offices welcoming "multiple tips" and promising $50 gift cards for leads, Time Warner spokeswoman Marci Pelzer confirmed for KansasCity.com.

"This is a competitive industry. Kansas City is a hyper-competitive market," she said.

As the song so long ago said, everything is up to date in Kansas City, where long-time satellite providers are competing with SureWest Communications (Nasdaq: SURW) and AT&T (NYSE: T) U-verse. Google's just promising a little bit more than everyone else with its boasts of building a high capacity FTTH network and delivering gigabit speeds. But, after the big initial publicity splash, the search engine giant has gone quiet.

"Google has given almost no details of what it will offer, when it will arrive or what neighborhoods will get it first. It has said the cost will be comparable to what most consumers pay now for Internet access," the newspaper Web site's story said, noting further that a Google spokeswoman declined to comment for the story.

So TWC, like everyone else in the two-state one-city area, apparently, is eager to learn anything and everything about what Google is up to. This much is certain: the California-based super-company has twice missed publicly announced schedules for lighting up the service and, most recently, is on the hook promising a "major announcement," this summer, the newspaper said.

That, said TWC's Peltzer, is why TWC is encouraging its workers to put their ears to the ground and eyes to the sky.

"We're looking for construction activity. We want our employees to be alert," she told the newspaper, before adding the appropriate disclaimer that "we would be doing this with any other new competitor."

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