Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

36° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City to put in bid for Google Internet test site

Evanston will apply to host an ultra-high speed Internet network built by Google, city officials said Tuesday.

Google plans to launch fiber optic-based broadband networks in one or more locations, the company announced Feb. 10. The networks will give users download speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have now, Google said in a press release.Evanston’s status as an academic and technological hub makes it a suitable test site for such a network, City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said.

“We’re not out in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska with nothing, so we have a leg up in the process,” Bobkiewicz said.

City officials and residents met Tuesday at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., to plan a strategy for the application. They discussed creating a video to highlight Evanston’s assets and emphasize the city’s enthusiasm. The application is due March 26.

Internet access in Evanston is less widely available than it should be, Bobkiewicz said. The city’s cable franchise with Comcast runs out next year, and AT&T, another major Internet provider, “continues to struggle with the product they’re offering here in Evanston,” he said.

If Google chose Evanston as a test site, more citizens might be able to afford high-speed Internet, Bobkiewicz said.

“It will make sure all our residents have equal access,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a Northwestern student or a single mom.”

Businesses would benefit for similar reasons, said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jonathan Perman.

“I suspect it would offer greater competition for businesses to get high-speed Internet service, which would lower the price,” he said.

The Chamber of Commerce endorses the city’s application, Perman said.

Because NU already has a fiber network of its own, the University probably would not be directly affected if Evanston got the Google network, said Wendy Woodward, NU’s director of telecommunications support services.

But if more of the city had high-speed Internet access, that might allow information sharing between Evanston and the campus, Woodward said.

“We fully support the city in pursuing this opportunity,” she said.

NU’s fiber network might also make Evanston a more attractive location for Google because the company would have less equipment to install, Bobkiewicz said.

Google requires that communities applying have between 50,000 and 500,000 members. Bobkiewicz said as far as he knows, Evanston has no competition from other cities in Illinois.

“I don’t know of any other Illinois community that has put their flag down to say, ‘We’re doing this,'” he said.

If Evanston finds a clever marketing strategy for itself, Bobkiewicz thinks it has a good chance, he said.

“We have all the things Google would look for,” he said.[email protected]

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City to put in bid for Google Internet test site