NPR logo
Internet Project Sparks Stunts For Google's Attention
  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Internet Project Sparks Stunts For Google's Attention


Google is also in the headlines for a story that hits much closer to home. The Internet search company will install super high-speed fiber optic Internet cables in at least one U.S. city. The test project is called Google Fiber. And it'll offer Internet speeds up to 100 times faster than what most people have today. But Google says it can only bring the service to about half a million homes and that has set off feverish campaigning to win the project.

Dustin Dwyer of Michigan Radio reports from Grand Rapids.

DUSTIN DWYER: Topeka started it all. The official application process to be considered for Google Fiber is all online. But leaders of Kansas' capital city decided they needed an edge to get Google's attention, so they temporarily and unofficially changed the city's name. Instead of Topeka, it's now Google, Kansas. The folks in Duluth, Minnesota were quick to respond with this mock press conference posted on YouTube.

Mayor DON NESS (Duluth, Minnesota): My fellow Duluthians, please remember that just because Topeka was the first to make an obnoxious, symbolic gesture to suck up to the good folks there at Google, doesn't mean that we can't suck up even more.

DWYER: As is to prove the point, Duluth Mayor Don Ness took a February dip in the icy waters of Lake Superior just to get Google's attention. In response, the mayor of Sarasota, Florida went for a swim in a shark tank. Sarasota also recruited L.A. singer-songwriter Lindsey Ray to do a jingle.

(Soundbite of jingle)

Ms. LINDSEY RAY (Musician): (Singing) There's no limit to all the things that I can do now that I found you, thank you, Google Fiber.

DWYER: Meanwhile, the folks in Grand Rapids, Michigan took a different tack, hoping sheer numbers would impress Google.

(Soundbite of song, "I Gotta Feeling")

BLACK EYED PEAS (Music Group): (Singing) That tonight's gonna be a good night.

DWYER: On Friday, volunteers organized a downtown rally for Google Fiber. Hundreds of people came, dressed in the bright colors of Google's logo. They unfurled a half-mile-long string of balloons to represent the fiber optic lines, and they made a lot of noise.

Unidentified Man: My Grand Rapids is...

(Soundbite of cheering)

Unidentified Man: My Grand Rapids is...

(Soundbite of cheering)

DWYER: Through all of these stunts and trust me, there are dozens more -people at Google have been paying attention. But that doesn't mean the city with the best stunt wins. Minnie Ingersoll is Google's product manager.

Ms. MINNIE INGERSOLL (Product Manager, Google): We're excited about the grassroots enthusiasm, but we're going to be evaluating all the applications based on their merit.

DWYER: Google has been a little vague about exactly what does have merit in this competition. But Ingersoll points to a couple criteria: one, Google wants to be able to install its fiber lines quickly, so infrastructure is important. And, two, Google is looking for a place that can actually use ridiculously fast Internet and not just for lightning-quick downloads or the latest episode of Lost.

Copyright © 2010 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.