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Kansas City’s Gigabit Internet Experiment Starts To Take Shape

Kansas City Web developer Ben Barreth runs the Homes for Hackers program.
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May 1, 2013 By

When Nick Budidharma wanted to launch a business based on his idea for an online gaming server, he didn’t head to California’s Silicon Valley or another traditional tech hot spot. Instead he set out for Kansas City, taking advantage of super-fast fiber connectivity being installed by Google and new local programs designed to build companies around those broadband resources.

Budidharma, an 18-year-old high school graduate from Hilton Head Island, S.C., moved into a five-bedroom “hacker home” last winter, sharing the space with several other aspiring entrepreneurs. After spending three months rent-free in the house, Budidharma launched his company, LeetNode. Now he plans to spend another year in the area — living in another entrepreneurial test tube environment called the KC Startup Community — while working on a second Internet-based startup. 

Google Fiber Test Bed

Budidharma’s experience may have been just what Kansas City leaders had in mind when they made a bid for Google Fiber several years ago. Kansas City, Kan., Mayor and CEO Joe Reardon led efforts to become a test bed for Google’s gigabit fiber-to-the-home Internet service. Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James then partnered with Reardon to extend the network across the state line. The region was among more than 1,000 communities competing for a chance to become home to the super-fast network. Google chose Kansas City for the project in 2011 and began installing the fiber network last year. 

Kansas City, Mo., and Kansas City, Kan., stand to benefit from Google Fiber.

Reardon says he quickly realized that the fiber project would achieve a “deeper level of success” as a regional initiative. Reardon added that he and James had been in talks about the fiber project before James was elected in 2011. The partnership meant that the cities could work together to achieve the same goal. 

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Neil Steiner    |    Commented May 2, 2013

Ben Barreth, Homes For Hackers owner is the embodiment of what midwest hospitality is all about. He unselfishly took a chance by risking his own capital to make an investment in Kansas City's future. Now it's paying off for all of us and more people have an "on ramp" to get an entrepreneurial, startup idea going. Thanks Ben!

Ron Corriveau    |    Commented May 2, 2013

Neil, Ben, Marcus, Jon and the entire KCSV Village community... What you are doing in KC is being watched from around the world, just keep up the good work. I was so impressed by the movement that I saw there of grassroots economic development you are undertaking that I am bringing your story to angel groups, venture funds and my own city. I hope to get back there later this year to witness your continued successes. There will be bumps in the road, but keep on headed in the right direction. I am a huge fan and supporter.

Mike Dello Russo    |    Commented May 2, 2013

I am so excited. My neighborhood is currently being wired now. Can't wait to become the first "Fiberhood" in the state of Missouri

Ellis Smith    |    Commented May 10, 2013

If you get sick of waiting, we've had community-wide gigabit Internet in Chattanooga, Tenn. since 2010. Come check us out.

anon    |    Commented May 13, 2013

Ellis- The idea of community-wide gigabit internet access in KC that makes it so appealling is the access. It will cost less for all. Not like the $300/month access you so humorously tout in Gig City, Tenn.

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