The mayor of Duluth, Minn., jumped into icy Lake Superior. Lafayette, Ind., is touting free snacks, among other community assets, and at least someone in Baton Rouge thought the city should seriously consider renaming itself Baton Roogle. Lafayette, La., on the other hand is basing its pitch for the Google Fiber for Communities project (also known as the Google Gigabit project) on its own, ready-made, citywide fiber to the premise network, a plug and play of sorts. The search engine giant announced in February it was soliciting Requests for Information from communities across the country interested in serving as a test bed for next generation Internet. The company plans to build ultra high-speed 1 gigabit per second fiber networks in select locations in order to test cutting edge applications it hopes to develop. Obviously, there has been no shortage of interest in having Google come upgrade a community's Internet speeds to 100 times faster than today's standards. Google reported receiving more than 1100 community response and more than 194,000 individual responses. The deadline for entries was March 26.

Lafayette Utilities System, which is completing build-out of its own fiber-to-the-home network in July, submitted a Request for Information on behalf of Lafayette just before deadline. LUS Director Terry Huval says City-Parish President Joey Durel and the Lafayette Economic Development Authority were actively involved in completing the online entry form. Consultants Doug Dawson, of CCG Consulting, and Geoff Daily also assisted in highlighting a more national perspective on Lafayette's fiber network, as well as addressing some of the regulatory issues.

"We already have a system in place and that's what we were trying to sell to them," Huval says. He notes that LUS' fiber network, which reaches internal speeds up to 100 megabits per second, could be upgraded to 1 Gig per second speed relatively easily. "We looked at what kind of things do we bring to the table that might be unique," Huval adds, "and yet still substantive enough to attract Google's attention and we felt that the fact that we already have a fiber to the home infrastructure almost completely in place that we have clear unambiguous community support because we had a vote of the people [on fiber] with strong support. We also talked about the strength of the utility system and we talked about our visions for the future, that we didn't build this system only to have competitively priced cable TV, telephone and Internet, we were looking at building an infrastructure for the future."

While Lafayette officials have had an audience with some of Google's top execs, including at a recent broadband summit at Google headquarters, Huval says there have not yet been any direct discussions regarding Lafayette's application for the fiber project. That doesn't mean Google isn't aware of what's happening with LUS Fiber. "They know who we are," Huval says. The company will get a timely reminder next week, when Minnie Ingersoll, Product Manager for Google Gigabit, will be among the attendees at Fiber Fete, a local technology summit focusing on next generation broadband that will showcase Lafayette's story.

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