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To woo Google, Long Beach opts for old-fashioned letter-writing

March 26, 2010 |  1:13 pm

Cities around the nation have done just about everything to publicize their bids to host Google’s new broadband Internet network, holding parades and parties, producing online videos and taking ice-cold dips in Lake Superior.

The city of Long Beach, however, took a more serious route, sending more than 700 letters with the application it submitted to the Internet giant Friday, the deadline for consideration.

“We wanted to focus on substance -- having a strong, solid application that was adult and responsible,” said Councilman Robert Garcia, who sponsored the motion directing the city to apply for the broadband service called Google Fiber.

“We bring to the table the most diverse city in the country, a city just the size they’re looking for," Garcia continued. "Hopefully, Google will take interest.”

Google announced plans last month to build a 1-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic broadband network in at least one trial location, the first outpost of an envisioned nationwide system. The speed would be about 100 times faster than a typical high-speed Internet connection.

Other communities nationwide have tried to garner attention to their bids through publicity stunts. The city of Topeka, Kan., renamed itself “Google, Kansas” for the month of March, and the mayors of Duluth, Minn., and Sarasota, Fla., jumped into an icy lake and a shark-infested tank, respectively.

With a population of about 475,000, Long Beach just qualifies for one of Google’s guidelines -- that the winning city have from 50,000 to 500,000 customers.

Long Beach officials hope the 706 letters penned by community leaders, technology experts and elected officials boost the city's bid by offering an air of seriousness and professionalism.

Are city leaders worried that letters might be a bit too old-fashioned to woo a tech firm?

“No,” Garcia said. “It’s an online application, so they’re all PDFs.”

-- Tony Barboza