At the northeast corner of State Line and Westport Roads in Kansas City, Mo. — roughly half a mile from Johnson County and just feet from the state of Kansas — Google last week opened the home base of its new Fiber ultra-highspeed Internet and television service.
For residents of northeast Johnson County, the new “Fiber Space” is a reminder of just how close they would seem to be to enjoying the benefits of Google’s advanced technological investment in the area — and just how long it could be before the services are made available to them.
Initially, Google announced that it would be offering its Fiber services in Kansas City, Kan., only. A few months later, it announced it would offer its also offer the service in select neighborhoods of Kansas City, Mo. But the company has been mum about plans for expansion into the rest of the Kansas City area, including Johnson County.
“At this point, we have not seen any indication or heard anything that would lead us to believe they’re looking anywhere outside of those first areas,” said Prairie Village City Administrator Quinn Bennion, who says the city received several inquiries after last week’s Google Fiber kick-off event about whether Prairie Village residents would be eligible to pre-register for the service. “There is a lot of talk of, ‘Wouldn’t that be nice,’ though.”
Bennion notes that expansion into Johnson County would pose a number of logistical barriers for Google. Kansas City, Kan., proved an attractive pilot site for the service because its Unified Government provides a single point of contact for working with both utilities and city offices. Kansas City, Kan. and Wyandotte County also own much of the public infrastructure — including light poles — making it simpler to schedule installation of the Google Fiber lines.
Moving into Johnson County, Bennion said, would require navigating a maze of 21 separate city governments, the county government and the utility companies.
But those roadblocks aren’t stopping many in the area from making a push to attract Google’s attention, and perhaps coaxing them into looking to the southwest sooner than later. Some residents have emailed friends and neighbors encouraging them to put their address into the pre-registration form, even though the Fiber site responds with a message noting that the area is not eligible for service.
Prairie Village resident Mark Logan went so far as to start an online petition to bring Google Fiber to Prairie Village. People can sign on here.
“We’re not in their first wave of buildout, obviously, but I know people within the organization, and they’ve indicated that they will be responsive to grassroots enthusiasm in forming their expansion plans for future phases,” Logan wrote us.
And if — or, hopefully, when — Google indicates they’re ready to consider expansion, the city says it would certainly be prepared to express interest in having the services available to residents, much as it has recently with SureWest.
“We would absolutely consider writing a letter or expressing our interest otherwise,” Bennion said. “But we have no idea when they might start looking here.”