TriCom Technical Services

A Glitch in Google’s Fiber Plan

In 2000 Census, fiber, fiberhoods, Google, Google Fiber, internet, IT news, Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas City Star, Missouri, Troost, Troost Avenue on August 30, 2012 at 12:01 pm

As you already know, Kansas Citians have recently been presented with the opportunity to enroll in Google Fiber services. Beginning with availability in core area neighborhoods deemed “fiberhoods,” this 100x speed internet service comes at a premium price, which many of us are willing to pony up for to reap the benefits.

Or so we thought.

What many of us had not considered up to this point is the unfortunate historical foundation on which this city was built. And no, I’m not talking about cows.

Any local urban planner knows about the Troost line, a very distinct boundary between black and white communities in Kansas City. Some might even say the extreme segregation is more severe here than in many other major metropolitan areas. What Troost Avenue also indicates is a line drawn between low-income and middle class neighborhoods.

 

This base map represents the race and ethnicity present in the Kansas City area, based on information from the 2000 Census. Each dot represents 25 people – Red is White, Blue is Black, Green is Asian, Orange is Hispanic, and Gray is Other. The distinct separation you see in the center between red and blue shows the stark segregation down Troost Ave.

For comparison, here are similar data maps for New York City, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, and Dallas.

So what does this have to do with Google Fiber? It all comes down to money. Predictions of a backlash are coming to a head in community meetings, citing a fear that neighborhoods west of the Troost line will be unable to fulfill the required pre-registration goal for each “fiberhood,” leaving these communities in the dark.

Here are the present Kansas City, Missouri side pre-registration standings. Again, you can see the distinct line between income tiers down Troost Avenue.

According to the Kansas City Star, “Not enough pre-registrations could mean there won’t be wiring to those neighborhoods’ schools, community centers, police stations, libraries — a range of public buildings that Google promised free access if goals were met. Not one school east of Troost has hit the percentage of pre-registrations of surrounding homeowners that Google deemed necessary to trigger the free hookups.”

To add insult to injury, the Kansas City public school system has already lost accreditation, and missing out on this opportunity to improve educational standards could prove fatal.

So what can we do to help?

Volunteers are going door-to-door in these low-income neighborhoods to spread information about what Google Fiber has to offer and what it can do for communities. Community leaders are also asking for assurance that Google won’t back out of providing the free hookups for libraries and schools if the paying customers never materialize. (Kansas City Star)

As of this week, The Social Media Club of Kansas City reports 4,089 more pre-registrations are necessary in Missouri and 1,749 in Kansas City, Kan., to turn all neighborhoods green. At $10 per registration, we’ll need to raise approximately $58,380 to apply for service for all Kansas City, MO and Kansas City, KS fiberhoods.

And this is just for pre-registration fees – not to mention the money needed for construction and service fees per home! But I suppose we’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there.

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