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Tech community hopes Google selects New Orleans to test high-speed fiber network

NOLAFiber Google Fiber New Orleans
Members of the New Orleans Business Community discuss how to lure Google to build it’s first fiber network in the city. – Image credit: Gregory Schultz / OpenBayou

Members of the New Orleans tech and software community gathered on Saturday morning to develop a proposal to submit to Google, hoping they will beat out San Francisco, St. Louis and others to become the test-market for Google’s new high-speed fiber network.

According to a press release from Google, the company will select a small number of cities and “build and test ultra-high speed broadband networks across the country. We’ll deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today with 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000, and potentially up to 500,000 people.”

Members of the group – NOLA Fiber – want the city to be selected.

There are many questions going into the selection process, mainly what will Google look for in selecting the municipality to test the fiber network.

“We don’t know what Google is looking for”, Andrew Larimer, project manager of NOLA Fiber stated. “If Google is looking for a (small community that has an) easier way to implement fiber, then I don’t think we are the choice.”

Even with the uncertainly, Larimer and others are optimistic that Google will select the city; hoping that the recovery efforts and the Saints Super Bowl win will be a competitive advantage over others.

The rebuilding efforts after Hurricane Katrina has put New Orleans on the map and “everyone is looking at us and (seeing results from the rebuilding efforts and that) the energy is there,” Larimer said. The rebuilding efforts has transformed into “to an economic, high-tech future that benefits the community. I think it’s all in line, it’s a great story and I think it would be an easy choice.”

Larimer continued, “If Google is looking for a diverse community using (the network) in different ways, then I think we are the choice.”

Transition team will be crucial

Getting the support of the city government is crucial, which is why NOLA Fiber is working on getting mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu’s administration and the city council onboard and involved in the fiber project.

Larimer thinks the city the will be involved with the fiber project.

“I think seeing other cities trying to (lure Google to their community will) make it much easier to get the city involved”, Larimer said.

It’s unclear where mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu position is on the fiber project. Members of the project tell ControlAltTV that Landrieu is onboard with New Orleans becoming a test market but we cannot confirm the statement nor how much his transition team will contribute to the proposal.

All municipalities that want to be in the running must submit their proposals to Google by March 26. Google will announce the winners later in the year.