Virginia Tech, Town of Blacksburg team up to attract Google

BLACKSBURG, Va., March 2, 2010 – Virginia Tech and Blacksburg have teamed up to submit a joint application for Google's recent push to build ultra-high speed fiber networks in a number of locations across the country.

If selected, Blacksburg would be the recipient of Internet speeds 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.

"Blacksburg was the first community in the world, through the Blacksburg Electronic Village, to explore how the Internet could transform business, education, and community interaction," said Ron Rordam, mayor of Blacksburg. “More than 15 years later, we now have a population of citizens, university faculty, and students who have demonstrated innovation and creativity as network producers, not just consumers, of high bandwidth applications and services. We believe this is exactly what Google is looking for with their gigabit to the home test bed project, and we are committed to working in partnership with them if Blacksburg is selected."

The local project team is calling on the community for their help. There are two steps to completing the Google Request for Information (RFI), the government response and the community response. Both are due by March 26, 2010. Residents, artists, businesses, and community organizations are asked to fill out a short online form and clicking on “Nominate Your Community.”

The form requires a name, city, and state, and a paragraph or more explaining why you would like to have Google locate in Blacksburg. Reasons could include the need for increased broadband access for business, education, arts, entertainment, telemedicine, emergency services, or other similar reasons. Aside from the current benefits a community such as Blacksburg could enjoy, Google says it is particularly interested in creative thinking and next generation ideas. A sample template response can be found online.

The community form includes optional fields that ask about broadband connections. Respondents can run a speed test on their connection by using the Virginia Tech Community Broadband Map found online. The speed test will allow respondents to immediately obtain some of the information needed to fill in the Google form.

There is also an opportunity for the community to participate in a YouTube video contest and an application naming contest. The winning recipient of each will receive a $100 Downtown Blacksburg Gift Certificate. Details of the competition can be found online.

Heather Browning, public information officer for the Town of Blacksburg, wrote this story.