Google Fiber For Communities – Will Palo Alto be Google’s dance partner?

Palo Alto responded to Google’s Request For Information for its Fiber for Communities initiative on March 26 — Google will pick some dance partners “sometime this year,” according to Jim Fleming, a Management Specialist for the City of Palo Alto.

Fleming touted Palo Alto’s fiber loop and utility infrastructure as definite advantages offered by the City. But he cautioned that those factors, as well as the fact that Palo Alto is the hometown of Google executives, and the founders incubated the company while attending Stanford University, do not make the town an automatic choice.

“Palo Alto offers a lot of advantages that would allow Google to quickly built out the system, but it is by no means a slam dunk.”

LaFayette, LA has also has a Fiber Optics infrastructure in place and recently hosted a Fiber to the Home Conference attended by a Google representative. Investor and philanthropist George Soros is heavily advocating for the Baltimore, MD. selection. In other words, there is lots of competition.

“Google may want to choose a location where there is no infrastructure and then build from the ground up.” Fleming cautioned. It was clear that he was tempering expectations, as his enthusiasm for Palo Alto as a “natural choice” was a consistent theme in the conversation.

He was clear that the Google submission was not an application, but a response to the Request For Information. “Based on the information, Google will approach cities with the opportunity sometime this year.”

Google’s motive for the project is to demonstrate that the internet can be delivered to the home at speeds much higher than the goals set by existing carriers. Fleming said that Google would like to set the benchmark performance standards higher for all carriers — thus allowing increased traffic for its core business.

The fact that Palo Alto owns its own Utility corridors, and has fiber in place, would pave the way for a speedy proof of concept — and that may provide the dance partner Google desires.

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About the Author: Timothy Gray is a Palo Alto resident and lives in the Charleston Meadows Neighborhood. He can be reached at