KANSAS CITY, KAN. Inside a small bungalow on the street
separating Kansas City, Kan., from its sister city in Missouri, a
small group of entrepreneurs are working on their ideas for the next
high-tech startup, tapping Google Inc.s new superfast Internet
connection that has turned the neighborhood into an unlikely
settlement dubbed the Silicon Prairie.
The home on State Line Road is one of several startup-friendly
locations that have sprouted up in Kansas City in recent months. The
catalyst is Google Fiber, the search-engine giants fiber-optic
network being tested in the Kansas City area that advertises speeds
of up to a gigabyte per second a rate that massively exceeds the
average Internet speeds at homes hooked up with cable modems.
The advantage here for startups is simple: A fast Internet pipe
makes it easier to handle large files and eliminates buffering
problems that plague online video, live conferencing or other
network-intensive tasks. Though the Kansas City location presents
challenges for startups, including the ability to raise money
outside the traditional Silicon Valley venture capital scene,
entrepreneurs like Synthia Payne believe its the place to be right
now for up-and-coming tech companies.
Payne is one of those entrepreneurs hoping to launch her startup
dream an Internet subscription service for musicians who want to
collaborate online on the cheap. She shares the State Line Road
house, known as the Home for Hackers, with other startups under a
deal that allows them to live rent-free while they develop their
Googles network was attractive, Payne said, because her business
plan is dependent upon really good, really fast Internet.
Without this onramp here, I probably would have found it very
difficult to come here, said Payne, who in December moved from
Denver to develop CyberJammer.
Residents here were thrilled when Google announced last year that
Kansas City, Kan., and neighboring Kansas City, Mo., would be its
test bed for Google Fiber. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company
spent months and unknown sums installing optical fiber around the
area. Google provides the full gigabyte service for $70 a month and
its own cable-TV like service for an additional $50. A slower
Internet connection is free on a monthly basis after a $300
The first homes were installed with fiber optics in the fall,
with more fiberhoods planned in stages over the next several months.
Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., remain Googles only fiber
market, though the company has said it plans others.
Many in the tech industry believe Googles move could ultimately
force broadband providers to accelerate their networks to compete.
Making Internet access faster would give the company more
opportunities to attract traffic and sell more advertising the main
way Google makes money. …