Friday, October 31, 2014
Google Fiber came first to Kansas City, Kansas and then to Kansas City, Missouri with the egalitarian promise of leveling the playing field by bridging the digital divide. Now the service is becoming available to Metro suburbs. Today Google Fiber announced that it is indeed egalitarian because it has told Leawood, Kansas they can't have their service.
Leawood, especially the new Leawood south of Interstate 435 is the enclave of the 1%, or as my generation called them Yuppie scum. They have used zoning laws to position themselves as a fortress keeping the riffraff away. Recently a favorite grocery store of these wealthy spoiled citizens told them they were leaving town because the city was inflexible in using tax money to assist in the refurbishment of their store.
Leawood's affinity for zoning itself into oblivion struck again in Google Fiber's decision to bypass this golden ghetto. It simply costs too much money for Google to develop the infrastructure to serve Leawood. Oh their homes are big, and spread apart, the lot sizes tend to be described as estates. The bottom line calculation for installing the impressive infrastructure for Google Fiber must go something like "x number of houses to the block, y number of blocks to the city = n number of potential customers". Then you'd figure out how many customers you'd likely obtain and there is a break even figure in that math. Leawood doesn't have enough customers to justify the cost of building the network in their city.
Plus there is the problem with digging ditches in the pristine lawns of Leawood. You know that those people won't be satisfied with the trench being refilled and grass seed being spread and watered once or twice. Nor would placing a coat of excelsior over the disturbed area suffice. No, in Leawood Google Fiber would have to hire George Toma, or at least a golf course grass guru, to assure the continuity and beauty of the lawns of Leawood.
So the whiny little rich kids will have to play their bleeding edge, high tech, and mind numbing electronic games on the back alleys of the internet highway system. If they're parents need to wheel and deal on global markets they can rent office space in Kansas City, Missouri or Kansas; but they can't have it at home. And the serious students will have to do their learning the old fashioned way. They'll fall behind, but that tends to happens when the poorest become a little more equal in obtaining access to education with the richest. When the average is raised in the arena of opportunity some win and some lose. The kids of the two Kansas Cities win this round.