Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What Does Google Fiber Mean for Kansas City?

Greg Kratofil,
Polsinelli Shughart
Last week, I had the opportunity to talk with Greg Kratofil, legal counsel provider for Kansas City, Kansas’ Google Fiber.  After speaking with Mr. Kratofil, my eyes were opened to the ground-breaking technology that Kansas City can offer with the implementation of Google Fiber, proving to me that KC can become America’s next tech hub.  Check out my question and answer session with Greg Kratofil!
Allison:  What was your initial reaction to Google Fiber coming to Kansas City, Kansas?
Greg:  My initial reaction was extremely excited, obviously.  This is something that 1100 other communities were hoping for.  Once [Google] finally came back around and said that they were picking Kansas City for their location, we were able to work with them and negotiate an agreement with the city—and I cannot tell you how great Kansas City, Kansas has been.  I now understand the phrase, “Why not Kansas City?”  We fit into [Google’s] plans for the future. 
Allison: Did you think that KC would become Google Fiber’s launch pad in the beginning?
Greg: I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy.  I know we have a great technology community and I think that  Kansas City can do a lot with a gig like this.  I was always confident in telling my clients that I believe Kansas Citians will surprise people and will come up with some interesting and creative applications for the future.
Allison: Why is Kansas City, Kansas a good place for Google Fiber to launch?
Greg: The unified government, the public utilities, the open conduit, our demographics.  But most importantly, the willingness to throw out the old playbook and start with a new sheet of paper.  I believe that Google sees a robust technology community here and opportunities for people to be able to take advantage of it.  This is different.  Nobody has tried to do this before.  I think that Google wants a partner that is going to approach the deal with the same attitude.  Kansas City is willing to do that.
Allison: What does this mean for Kansas City?                                                     
Greg: I think it’s a game-changer for the entire region; not just KCK, but for the greater Kansas City area, if not the Midwest.  The opportunity and the tools that we are going to get out of this investment by Google will put us on the map.  We hope to be on the map with other tech-related hubs like Boston, Seattle and Silicon Valley.  That’s the goal: to get to that.  I think we can.  It’s also a game-changer for the company, the developers, and for people looking to do investments in technology companies.  I think we are going to be ground zero for that next generation of developers and users of technology.
Allison: So, this is an event that will go down in history.
Greg: Remember when we used to have dial-up?  Then all of a sudden, you were able to get 1 meg and 5 meg modems and you were able to surf the Internet at a faster speed.  At that time, nobody understood why you would need that much speed.  In fact, Bill Gates in 1981, is famously quoted for saying that 640kb should be enough for anybody, although there is dispute as to whether this was really said.  But look at what happened from there to where we are now.  I believe that we are going to see that same leap of innovation today.  That’s the hope and the challenge for us—to see if we can spur that same level of innovation and growth that we saw when we went from dial-up to a 5 meg, the same thing at 5 to 1 gig.
Think Big with a gig. 
Written by Allison Way.

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