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Anchorage Seeks Community Support for Broadband Infrastructure Upgrades

Response to Google: "Anchorage will work for it"

The Municipality of Anchorage is responding to Google's bid to be selected as a test city for an ultra high-speed broadband network with a local campaign encouraging residents to take action. The campaign, Googifi Anchorage, is a local collaborative of city officials, businesses, information technology and marketing professionals and community volunteers hoping to boost Anchorage's chance of being selected.

The campaign directs Anchorage residents to its Web site, GoogifiAK.com, where they may "click" to vote for the city, upload video testimonials and sign a petition of support. The theme of Anchorage's campaign is "Will Work for Bandwidth," and people submitting video online are encouraged to address the questions "What are you working for?" or "What would you do with more bandwidth?" A sample video is provided on the Web site featuring the mayor and campaign supporters discussing why they will work for bandwidth.

"We want to show Google that our city is motivated and willing to work for this opportunity," said Municipality of Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan. "Our 'I will work,' theme emphasizes how the community will benefit from the world-class network while reinforcing that the city is ready to work with Google and Alaska's existing carriers to make this trial a reality."

In February, Google announced its plans to build and test a series of networks across the United States. The proposed network will deliver Internet speeds at one gigabit per second, 100 times faster than the national average, through fiber-to-the-home connections. The speed of the network would offer a significant benefit to the city.

"This is an opportunity to be on the leading edge of the IT world, a tremendous opportunity that Google is affording a few select cities and we think Anchorage is well qualified and deserving of it," said Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation.

A study released by the Communications Workers of America last year reported that Alaska clocked among the slowest Internet speeds at about half the national average.  

Despite slower connection speeds, Alaska, and Anchorage in particular, is a wired community with more than 90 percent of households in the city reportedly owning a computer. In 2007, the municipality reported in its EGov survey that 91.3 percent of households reported having at least one computer; 53.2 percent reported having more than one and 87.4 percent reported having Internet access at home.

"The economic development implications of boasting the fastest information technology capabilities in the world are endless," said Popp. "Anchorage is already a leader in telemedicine, we have an improving redundant fiber optic infrastructure and we will continue to be a much-needed communications hub for rural Alaska."

More information on Anchorage's campaign to win Google's heart may be found by visiting www.GoogifiAK.com or the Facebook group "1GB Anchorage." The city's completed proposal is due March 26.

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