Over 600 cities across the country applied to be the test site for a super high-speed network to be built by the Internet giant Google. The search engine company asked cities and citizens to submit applications. The winner would benefit from a one-gigabit-per-second fiber optic network that would move at speeds up to 100 times faster than most Internet surfers are used to. Little Rock met the basic qualifications; however, the city did not apply by the deadline last Friday.
Three cities in Arkansas did: Mountain View, Monticello and Fort Smith. The Times reported in early March about the opportunity. At that time, city officials expressed some interest. The city's information technology director, Randy Foshee, said he was optimistic the city would be able to submit a good application.
The mere mention of the possibilities created by such a fast network had those in the business community practically giddy. Gary Newton, executive vice president of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the network would create a climate of innovation and put Little Rock on the map.
So why not apply? According to a statement from Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore, there were “several questions posed in the application that raised logistical concerns in terms of the implementation of Google's yet untried idea and its long range use.”
“First and foremost, Little Rock does not own the utility poles in the city limits and has no lease agreement that could be extended to Google for the fiber installation,” the statement reads.
“Secondly, in these tough economic times, Little Rock has had to cut its budget and lay off employees. The city does not have the sufficient staff in place to work with Google on the practical realization of its goals. Little Rock's focus will always be on provid-ing the best services for its citizens and will continue to do so using the resources available.”
Of course, the city could have just applied and sorted out the logistics later. The network would have been a major improvement for Little Rock and made a huge impact in many sectors including business, education and health care.
There's still a chance that an individual sent in an application for Little Rock that could catch Google's eye, but that would likely pale in comparison to the efforts of cities like Topeka, Kan., which temporarily changed its name to Google, Kansas.
They messed with the wrong guy. One with a voice and a law degree.
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