An American city, Topeka, has renamed itself “Google” for a month, as it bids for the chance to host the search engine’s new high-speed broadband network.
The city, the capital of Kansas, will unofficially be known as “Google, Kansas â the capital city of fibre optics” during March.
Officials in the town, which has a population of 1,25,000, came up with the idea for “just a bit of fun” to help boost its chances of taking part in the trial of the search giant’s new broadband service.
Google last month announced it was to build the experimental, ultra high-speed broadband network across America. It said the trial would provide up to 5,00,000 people with high speed broadband at speeds of up to one gigabit per second — 200 times faster than the average UK speed of 5 mb/s.
The service will be an extension of Google’s existing fibre network, which links its various data centres around the US. Cities near these centres will be asked to nominate themselves to take part in the trial.
As a result a frenzy of ideas have been put forward including from thousands of Americans across the country, Google said.
More than 200 groups on Facebook are pushing different cities and counties for Google’s broadband plan.
One ideas submitted included a group in Baltimore launching a Web site that uses Google mapping to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and gives their reasons for wanting the service.
Other cities in pursuit include Cincinnati, Portland (Oregon), Grand Rapids (Michigan), Rochester (New York), Baton Rouge (Louisiana).
But it seemed to date the most original appeared to be the Kansas capital.
William Bunten, the 79 year-old mayor, said the city’s population, particularly the young, had embraced the idea.
One Facebook group set up the town’s youth is Bring Google’s Fiber Experiment to Topeka which has attracted almost 14,500 members.
The idea, which came from one of the local activists, was backed by the city council at a meeting earlier this month.
On the council’s website, a statement says: “The City of Topeka welcomes the opportunity to participate in this unique technological experiment, if selected as Google trial community, to benefit our citizens in providing all opportunities to access Internet Technologies.”
Mr Bunten, who has held office since 2005, said the idea was “just fun”.
“We’re having a good time of it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of good things that are going on in our city.
“It’s just a little different, and will probably bring some attention.”
Google said the move was part of its “hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone”.
“People are hungry for faster speeds and improved Internet access,” said Dan Martin, a Google spokesman, said.
The deadline to meet Google’s request for bid information is at the end of March.
The selected communities will be announced later this year.
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