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Duluth one-ups Google, Kansas, in bid for super-fast Internet

Duluth, Minnesota, pledges to rename its first-born children as part of a YouTube stunt to capture Google's broadband network. But it'll face competition from Google, Kansas (a.k.a. Topeka).

By Michael B. FarrellStaff writer / March 4, 2010

Duluth, Minnesota: Lake Superior shops, the William A. Irvin Ore Ship Museum, and ... really fast Internet? Duluth released a spoof YouTube video to try to persuade Google to bring its planned super-fast Internet network to northern Minnesota.

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Topeka, Kansas, may have renamed itself Google in a bid to convince the eponymous Internet giant to bring its super-fast, fiber optic broadband network there, but that’s nothing compared to what they’re doing in Duluth.

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The Minnesota port town pledged Wednesday to name every first born male Google Fiber and every first born female Googlette Fiber. That’ll show Topeka.

Duluth isn’t above making an “obnoxious symbolic gesture to suck up to the good folks there at Google.”

Actually, they’re just kidding.

But the town’s YouTube spoof of Topeka’s publicity stunt appears to be just the beginning of a healthy competition among cities and towns around the country that are bidding to become the test lab for Google’s new fiber optic network.

The Mountain View, Calif., company announced last month that it would start its own broadband network and was looking for communities to try out the service, which Google says will provide speeds about 100 times faster than the average connection. Interested? You can apply here.

In addition to Topeka and Duluth, Greensboro, N.C., Boulder, Colo., Baltimore, Md., and Columbia, Mo., are just a few of probably hundreds of the communities looking win over Google, which says it could connect as many as 500,000 people to its network.

Greensboro, Columbia, and Baltimore have taken their campaigns to entice Google to Facebook. Other’s are using Twitter to rally support. In Topeka, in addition to renaming itself Google for the month of March, the city's Boss Hawg's Barbeque restaurant has temporarily dubbed itself Boss Hawg's Google-Q.

But as the Tech Inciter blog notes, towns may want to proceed with some caution before going all out to win the Google broadband battle.

What happens when Google leaves, asks Tech Inciter’s David Coursey. “I would not want to be the mayor or councilman in a town that has grown accustomed to 1Gbps Internet connections when Google's money truck heads for the highway. How do you gracefully tell people that their new connection speed will suddenly be closer to 5Mbps?”

But for now, however, the race to impress Google is just heating up.

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