Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Experiment on us

Google “Google Fiber.” In about .18 seconds, you can read all you want about the future of the Internet and a few very lucky communities across America.

Google’s plan makes sense. The California search engine mega-company wants to test their new broadband technology in real, community settings before putting it out on the market. Basically, they want to test their own potential. With good reason — the product, Google Fiber Optic Network, will increase Internet speeds to easily 100 times faster than they currently are, and allow for an entire new generation of applications and inconceivably massive downloads. One gigabyte per second doesn’t just sound impressive — it blows current capability out of the water.

Essentially, think of the Internet now as a canoe. Google Fiber will make it an aircraft carrier.

The problem? Google doesn’t know exactly what can happen once they open the Pandora’s box of Fiber. To plan in a way that would maximize profits, they need to experiment to find out.

They need to experiment in Alabama. We need them to experiment in Alabama.

The experiment, Google says through James Kelly, a product manager on their infrastructure team, will provide the ultra-high-speed Internet access to at least 50,000, and up to potentially 500,000, people. I see no reason why any Alabama community doesn’t fit the bill.

With three cities — Mobile, Huntsville and Montgomery — that have populations over 300,000, and with the Birmingham metropolitan area having over 1 million, Alabama has large communities. Each of these boasts not only easily adaptable infrastructures, but competent potential workers and innovators. For proof, look no further than the fact that Alabama is No. 8 in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Survival Index. In Alabama, small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive — something Google could rely on.

Additionally, each of these cities already has extensive corporate and industrial presence and at least one college campus. Look at aerospace and defense in Huntsville, auto manufacturing in Montgomery, and assembly plants and shipping in Mobile. Professionals, as well as cutting-edge university researchers, could use Google Fiber to its full potential in any of these four cities.

Google can only impress with its focus on the community. Its presence would inherently enhance any city. From top to bottom, Google seems like a company operating with relatively pure motives and seems to pursue a higher goal very much in line with ideas of democracy, openness, and transparency.

If our elected leaders in Alabama, as well as our candidates running for office in November, aren’t scrambling to convince Google to test Google Fiber in an Alabama community by next week, don’t vote for them. They clearly and simply do not understand the imperative nature of bringing this type of technological and industrial experimentation to Alabama, and can’t grasp how much an experiment like Google Fiber could bring to the state.

They don’t understand we don’t have to stop with Google, and don’t have to stop with the four biggest cities in Alabama.

Small communities and rural Alabama are just as eligible as the four largest cities for the companies’ experiments. For example, don’t think of Alabama’s Black Belt as a permanently impoverished wasteland—think of it as a blank template or canvas.

Residents and social leaders eager for change in Alabama’s poorest region would undoubtedly embrace experiments in everything from credit-building microfinance loans to rural health initiatives. Anything and everything of this nature could build up the region, and improve the entire state from within. Not to mention, the more experiments we attract to Alabama, the higher the chance of something making it big. Even the poorest and most rural areas in Alabama could cradle the next, say, Google.

So, Google, look no further than Alabama. Please, come experiment on us.

Will Tucker is a freshman majoring in international relations. His column runs on Fridays.

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