Kansas City businesses dream big with Google Fiber, despite uncertain availability

Businesses in Kansas City have some big ideas for Google's new fiber network, although they still don't know if they'll be able to use it once it goes online.

That's because Google originally conceived its experimental fiber network as a fiber-to-the-home network for residential users. But given the enthusiasm that Google has seen from the community as a whole, the company is now thinking about extending its fiber network's capabilities to enterprise customers if its residential rollout is successful.

IT BEGINS: Google 'ready to lay fiber' in Kansas City

BACKGROUND: Google building fiber network in Sprint's backyard

But as Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres says, this will require rethinking the company's infrastructure plans since business-class services require more than just the single fiber cable that residential homes will get for their Web connections. So any fiber rollout to businesses won't happen at least until Google finishes building out its FTTH network for consumers. And since official construction of the experimental fiber network only started earlier this month, there is no estimated timetable for when the network could become available for the enterprise.

"We're focused right now on fiber-to-the-home first," says Wandres.

Even so, the mere presence of Google's fiber network in their neighborhood has inspired Kansas City businesses to dream of what a 1Gbps fiber connection could mean for them. Think Big Partners, a Kansas City-based firm that describes itself as "an early-stage business incubator, startup accelerator and mentorship-based collaborative network," recently concluded its Gigabit Challenge contest that encouraged Kansas City businesses to come up with innovative ways to use the Google Fiber network to "help establish an ecosystem that will cause innovation and disruptive technologies to surge."

SEIN Analytics and Asset Management, which won the grand prize at the Gigabit Challenge, is a financial technology startup that is in the process of building a large database that tracks the performance of structured financial securities. Samuel Belu-John, the founder and developer of SEIN, says that the broadband technologies available right now allow the company to monitor 350 different kinds of public financial transactions. But since there are roughly 14,000 types of public financial transactions overall, SEIN will obviously need a much faster connection if it wants to significantly expand its overall database.

"As we expand you can see our database expanding very rapidly," he says. "You can imagine that the amount of data we are drawing down is quite large. ... What this high-speed network allows is for an entrepreneur to build something with a large amount of cloud data without putting up $1 million to $2 million to build out their own infrastructure."

Paruzia Technologies, another Kansas City-based startup that won the People's Choice award at the Gigabit Challenge, is also eyeing the Google Fiber network as a way to expand its operations. David Eck, the co-founder of Paruzia, says that his company is focused on helping small and medium businesses move as much of their technology and data over to the cloud as possible. And Paruzia isn't just planning any old cloud migration strategy for businesses either: It wants to help small and medium businesses give their remote workers better service at home than what they'd currently get at their offices. Eck says that if the Google Fiber network were to become available for Kansas City businesses, it would work wonders for reducing Paruzia's capital expenses that come with setting up its cloud infrastructure.

"We can still do it without Google Fiber, it just won't be as easy," he says. "It will cost more to get that kind of bandwidth if we don't have access to fiber. We're talking fully hosted services, desktops and phones, with zero congestion and zero slowness."

So for now, Kansas City businesses are moving forward with their development plans on the assumption that they won't have access to Google Fiber, even though Google has hinted that it would love to expand the network out to the business community if feasible. In the meantime, though, you can't blame young startups from dreaming.

"This is an opportunity for businesses to reduce their capital expenditures, to reduce the pain of startup costs and to enable growth in their companies," says Eck.

Belu-John, meanwhile, thinks that Google will see the enthusiasm for the network in the Kansas City business community and will have no choice but to expand the network.

"When Google is sending representatives to the Gigabit Challenge and they look at the business ideas being generated and how much they'll depend on a reliable network, I think they'll move to the business side very quickly," he says.

Read more about lan and wan in Network World's LAN & WAN section.

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