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Our friends at The Brainzooming Group helped shape an intriguing project featuring two graduate level marketing communications classes at the University of Kansas. Students in Max Utsler’s “Innovations in Marketing Communications” class and Barrett Sydnor’s “Integrated Marketing Communications and Sales Strategy” class are writing blog posts during the semester on topics related to the classes, including branding, marketing, media relations, social media, experience marketing, and innovation.

Today’s author is Patrick Kerr. Patrick is pursuing his Masters degree in Marketing Communications at KU.

Patrick offers some insights and opinions about the impact of the Google Ultra-High Speed Internet technology that has been “gifted” to Kansas City. Is it just a “marketing ploy” by Google or a genuine advantage for KC–or both?

Ever since Google announced it was planning to build an ultra high-speed broadband network in Kansas City on both sides of the river, I’ve wondered what the actual impact would be on the metro area. After all, Google made it clear that the plan would do very little in terms of jobs which disappointed city leaders and laid-off workers hoping for an immediate economic windfall. Who cares if you can download the latest Youtube video faster than usual?  Is this really going to improve the quality of life in the metro area, or is this merely a marketing ploy by a company that is systematically taking over the technology world?

First, let’s take a look at what the new technology will actually do. The plan is to build a network that will deliver Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit (or 1,000 megabits) per second using state-of-the-art-fiber technology. That’s approximately 20,000 times faster than dial-up and more than 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection.  In the animal world, that would be like a cheetah racing a turtle in a dead-on sprint.  In other words: scary fast.

According to Google, the plan will boost the area economy by allowing new innovations and cutting-edge technologies to develop in Kansas City. That’s all well and good and sounds convincing enough on paper, but how does that translate in reality? With the announcement of the Bistate Innovations Team, Kansas City leaders from both sides of the state line aren’t waiting around to find out. The team is made up of 12 key people appointed by both Kansas City mayors and will look at ways the area can take advantage of the project.

“From designers to small-business owners, health care to education, the arts to industry, these exceptional individuals will work together to explore every possibility our exciting partnership with Google may offer. I am confident this team will seize this transformational moment for both Kansas Cities,” said Kansas City, Mo. Mayor Sly James in a statement following the announcement.

So it is clear area leaders are taking a proactive approach to this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That’s the first of many steps in the right direction. But how is this news being received at the national level?  According to a recent Wall Street Journal roundup of industry hubs across country, the newspaper identified Kansas City as an emerging technology hotbed and even suggested the city’s new nickname should be “Silicon Prairie.”  The article cited the growth of area tech giants Sprint and Cerner as reasons for the choice, but also credited Google’s ultra-high-speed internet plans for solidifying the selection.  Now that’s the kind of traction that just might encourage businesses to relocate to or start up in Kansas City.

Now back to the question of how this new development will impact the daily lives of Kansas Citians. Just this past weekend, Google-owned YouTube announced it was planning to launch 100 new channels of professionally made video to the otherwise amateur content that currently dominates its website. The Wall Street Journal, British newswire Reuters and online magazine Slate are some of the many channels scheduled to debut on the new lineup. The move is seen as one more step in moving TV to the Internet. Once the city’s new high-speed Internet is in place, it will be at the forefront of this exciting new technology.

Of course, some analysts see the development as yet another way to increase viewership on the Internet – which is precisely where Google wants them. Perhaps Google’s plan to build the new high-speed connection for Kansas City is a marketing ploy after all.

-Patrick Kerr lives and works in the Kansas City area. His interests include good food, fishing and finding new hobbies to take his mind off the reeling Kansas City Chiefs and Royals.