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Kansas City, Kan., to be Google's broadband test bed

In its search for a U.S. town to deploy a test of ultra-high-speed broadband access, over 1,100 communities applied; Google has now announced the winner.

There's some rough news for Topeka, Kan., the city that courted Google's ultra-high-speed municipal broadband project by changing its name to Google. The Mountain View, Calif., tech giant announced Wednesday that the lucky city that gets to be its broadband guinea pig not only isn't Topeka, but it's Kansas City, Kansas--just an hour's drive away. Ouch.

More than 1,100 communities had applied since the call for applicants was announced about a year ago. Kansas City will first see the new developments next year, and Google is already looking for additional communities to join the test.

"Over the past decade, the jump from dial-up to broadband has led to streaming online video, digital music sales, videoconferencing over the Web, and countless other innovations that have transformed communication and commerce," a post on the official Google blog explained. "We can't wait to see what new products and services will emerge as Kansas City moves from traditional broadband to ultra high-speed fiber optic connections."

Keep in mind that this is the smaller of the two cities known as Kansas City--the bigger and more famous one is across the state line in Missouri, and is likely a larger test bed than what Google was looking for. The Kansas City that's actually in Kansas (Google, did you intend this to be confusing so that more people would Google it?) has a population of about 150,000 and is generally considered a suburb of its Missouri sibling.

"In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community, and develop relationships with local government and community organizations," Google wrote. "We've found this in Kansas City. We'll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext, and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future."

Google commemorated the decision with the release of a YouTube video featuring soundbites from Google executives like co-founder Sergey Brin and Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette, along with prominent Kansas City citizens ("this is probably going to be the most buzzed event in the history of Kansas City," one said).

"It is a privilege for us to deploy this high-speed network together with the hard-working people of Kansas City," Brin said at the conclusion of the video.