Kansas town changes name to "Google"

17:12, March 03, 2010      

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Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten has renamed the Kansas town "Google" for the month of March. The campaign is part of Topeka's bid for Google to roll out its ultra-fast fiber-optic broadband Internet in the town.

In a formal proclamation Monday, Bunten, 79, announced his city will be known as Google, Kansas. "It's just fun. We're having a good time of it," he said of the unofficial name change, "There's a lot of good things that are going on in our city."

The unusual move comes as several U.S. cities elbow for a spot in Google's new "Fiber for Communities" program. The Web giant is set to install new Internet connections in several unannounced locations, giving communities Internet speeds 100 times faster than those elsewhere, with data transfer rates faster than 1 gigabit per second.

Cities have until March 26 to tell Google they're interested in the venture. Google says it will pick one or more cities for the pilot project. "We'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people," Google says in an online post. "

The purpose of this project is to experiment and learn. Network providers are making real progress to expand and improve high-speed Internet access, but there's still more to be done. We don't think we have all the answers – but through our trial, we hope to make a meaningful contribution to the shared goal of delivering faster and better Internet for everyone."

The Fiber for Communties program is an extension of what Google has already initiated near its base in California. In 2006 Google launched a WiFi network in Mountain View near San Jose. However, the company has Google declined to comment on whether it's taking the "Google, Kansas" episode seriously.

Bunten laughs at the idea that he might make the name switch permanent if Google decides to invest in his 123,400-person city's Internet network. "Oh, heavens no, Topeka?" he said during a phone interview with CNN. "We are very proud of our city and Topeka is an Indian word which means 'a good place to grow potatoes.' We're not going to change that."

Asked whether Topeka still grew potatoes Bunto said, "I don't think we grow that many potatoes anymore,the crops we have out here are wheat and corn and soybeans and alfalfa. And, did I say soybeans?" It is not the first time the Kansas town has changed its name. In August 1998 Topeka temporarily renamed itself ToPikachu after Nintendo's Pokemon character.

Source: Xinhua/Agencies
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