Bozeman makes a bid for super-fast Google Internet service

Bozeman has officially put in its bid to become a test city for Google’s new super-high-speed Internet service, which the company says will give customers download speeds up to 100 times faster than those now available in most areas.

The city of Bozeman and its partners, the Prospera Business Network and the Bozeman Area Chamber of Commerce, announced the city’s Google application at a press conference Friday.

“The more broadband and Internet access we have here, the less people have to go outside the state or overseas to get the quality of service we can get right here in Montana,” said Daryl Schliem, president of the Bozeman chamber.

Schliem said ultra-fast Internet service would make Bozeman more appealing to high-tech businesses looking to set down roots or expand to a new city.

“For a remote location, having that extra [Internet] capacity would really open up opportunities for those kinds of businesses to grow,” said Stuart Leidner, executive director of Prospera. “There are just a lot of possibilities, and it could be really positive for the community overall.”

Google has said that it will provide 50,000 to 500,000 homes and businesses across the country with access to fiber-optic cables. Those cables will offer download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second. By comparison, most residential broadband services offer 1 to 2 megabits per second.

Gigabit speed would allow users to download high-definition movies in minutes, students to video conference in real-time with people a world away and doctors to analyze three-dimensional medical scans from the other side of the continent, the company has said.

“We would be very interested in tapping into a network like that,” said Laef Olson, chief information officer for RightNow Technologies, which conducts most of its business over the Internet.

Google’s services will not be free. The company has said that it will offer its service at a “competitive” price. No details about pricing have been announced, and Google has not said when it will choose its test cities, saying only that it will choose sometime this year.

“There are a lot of communities and cities applying, but we really embody what the future of broadband can be,” said City Commissioner Chris Mehl. “Bringing Google here could dramatically improve our ability to compete socially and economically.”

Google announced Feb. 10 that it was looking for cities to be “test beds” for its ultra-fast service. Since then, cities across the country have applied for consideration, including Baltimore, Md., Boulder, Colo., and Greensboro, N.C.

Notably, city leaders in Topeka, Kan., unofficially changed their city’s name to Google, Kan., for a month in an effort to woo Google. In response, Duluth, Minn., jokingly offered to name first-born children in the city after Google.

People can go online at http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi to nominate their communities for consideration. The deadline for nominations is March 26.