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Google says 600 communities are vying for its broadband network [Update]

March 26, 2010 |  1:01 pm

Google’s announcement last month that it would build a high-speed broadband network set off fierce competition among 600 communities, the technology powerhouse said in a blog post Friday.

[Updated at 6:38 pm: Google has updated its blog post. With the deadline past, it says it has received more than 1,100 community responses and more than 194,000 responses from individuals.]

Broadband Now Google will review the different communities. As it narrows down the possibilities, Google will conduct on-site visits and meet with local officials before choosing the winner. That decision will come by year’s end.

Google hasn’t been super-specific about the criteria in selecting which community will get the experimental hook-up for an ultra-high-speed connection, simply saying it wants to increase access to the Internet and spur competition. 

What the project has spurred is fierce competition among communities. The company received more than 190,000 responses from individuals.

“We've seen cities rename themselves, great YouTube videos, public rallies and hundreds of grassroots Facebook groups come to life, all with the goal of bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities,” Google said.

And that proved Google’s point: That Americans are clamoring for faster Internet access.

Antics to draw Google’s attention included the mayor of Duluth, Minn., who jumped into the icy waters of Lake Superior, and the mayor of Topeka, Kan., who renamed the city Google for the month of March. Rancho Cucamonga even got a Web makeover as Rancho Googlemonga. Closer to Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, folks in Palo Alto boogied to the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” in front of City Hall.

“We're not going to be able to build in every interested community,” said Google, which plans to reach up to 500,000 people with the experiment. “Wherever we decide to build, we hope to learn lessons that will help improve Internet access everywhere. After all, you shouldn't have to jump into frozen lakes and shark tanks to get ultra high-speed broadband.”

-- Jessica Guynn

Photo: Michelle Rogers uses free Google WiFi while sitting outside of a cafe in August 2006 in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images