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Cupertino's Internet Irregularity Calls for Fiber
By: Jeff Louis
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According to 2008 U.S. Census estimates, Cupertino, California, a town of 55,233, is nestled 45 miles south of San Francisco and 11 miles west of San Jose.

Approximately 37,000 residents above age 25 reside there, and its overall population is divided almost equally according to gender. The median home value is a million dollars, and Cupertino boasts an average household income that's nearly double the California median income of  $61,021.

The population is split, with white (non-Hispanic) people making up 47.8 percent and those of "Asian descent" at 41.3 percent. (Asian is not technically correct; the main races are Chinese, Asian Indian, Japanese, and Korean.) Additionally, 97.2 percent have a high school diploma, and 75 percent have a bachelor's degree. 

In comparison to the rest of the U.S., Cupertino equates as an ideal place to live. As a nation, we skew slightly toward female, have a median home value of  $192,400, a media income of $52,175, are predominately white (74 percent), and our education levels are but a third of Cupertino's. Plus, when you factor in the city's crime rate (3 murders since 1999 according to City Data), I'd be willing to move without a second thought.   

The city hopes to attract its neighbor Google (located in Mountain View, CA, a 13-minute drive to the north) with the launch of a "Got Fiber" campaign that asks, "Tired of Internet irregularity?"

It's an attempt to woo the search engine into testing their high-speed beta Internet service. Google opened their search to cities that range from 50,000 residents to 500,000 residents, but it's not known how many communities will be chosen. Google's project is aptly named, "Fiber for Communities," and the application deadline is March 26.

If you have a Google account, you can go to the Fiber for Communities page and submit your recommendation. Google's proposal will bring fiber-optic "cable" right into a user's home, increasing online speeds anticipated to be 100 times faster than a cable modem. 

Cupertino isn't the only city vying for attention. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the invitation to be a test city has caused publicity stunts across the nation. Topeka, KS changed the name of their city to "Google, KS" for the month of March. 

Cupertino hasn't gone to those extremes. The city launched the campaign in local media as well as on Cupertino.orgYouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. (Unfortunately, while the print ads have a bit of play in them, the YouTube video is a bore.) The chance of being chosen depends on the number of applications, but Cupertino has a lot going for it: The city is affluent, the population seems to include a lot of early adopters, and online penetration was reportedly 90 percent in 2004. The Internet penetration in the U.S. grew 134 percent from 2000 to 2009, and data on Internet World Stats states 74.2 percent of Americans can access the Web. 

City spokesman Rick Kitson believes that while their chances of being chosen are small, Cupertino's residents "have a high-tech day-to-day lifestyle," which naturally puts a strain on Internet Service Providers (ISP). He added that historically Cupertino's citizens have been early adopters of new technology.

"We have a proven track record of putting ISPs to the test and putting significant demands and strains on providers. If Google wants the right customers who will really test out this service, they should consider us," said Kitson. "Fiber seems to have that untapped capacity to deal with the data gridlock in people's homes. As a city, economic vitality comes through having that capacity."

Like any other city, Cupertino has only a couple of choices for online services. However, if they are a tech-savvy city with lots of users, insufficient bandwidth will slow online speeds considerably. While many cable companies boast of 100 megabits per second (Mbps), the true speeds don't come close to that rate. (I just tested my 100 Mbps service, and the upload speed was a lousy 1.6 Mbps, and the download speed was faster at 17 Mbps. If you want to test your connection speed, go to Speedtest.net. To see how bandwidth affects speed, do a test on a Monday morning and another one on a Friday night.)

If you're in a city that doesn't qualify or don't think your city's fathers are lobbying to test Google's fiber, log on and vote for Cupertino. 



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About the Author

Jeff Louis: Media Planner, Brand Project Manager, blogger, and aspiring writer. Please leave a comment or get in touch with Jeff on Twitter. As always, thank you for reading!

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