In his small bedroom with bunk beds covered in race car bedsheets and a desk with two monitors and a server, Nick pulls all-nighters coding and working with massive video files. Anywhere else, he said, getting the bandwidth needed for his firm LeetNode would be too expensive.
“It’s hard to develop a business when you have to think about the cost of Internet and speeds,” Budidharma said. “You don’t even have to consider it here.”
The hope is that these newcomers will drive the kind of economic growth the city seeks.
There is debate over whether access to the Internet betters an economy. Telecom operator Ericsson said in 2011 that doubling broadband speeds increases gross domestic product by 0.3 percent. The Federal Communications Commission has said areas that got broadband for the first time experienced a creation of 2.6 jobs for every one job lost.
On the Missouri side of the state line, businesses are eagerly awaiting the new service.
When T2 Studios sends its ultra high-definition videos, known as 4K video, to television stations in Chicago and Los Angeles, it has to degrade the quality for the files to transfer.
When Google’s network arrives in this part of the city this spring, T2 could send its pixel-packed videos in original form to clients.
The start-up buzz was on display recently at the Kauffman Foundation’s weekly meeting of start-ups, called “1 Million Cups.” Investors, city officials and budding entrepreneurs lined up against the walls to hear pitches by two start-ups.
City officials speculated that the Google project motivated Time Warner Cable to bid for a contract to wire a new city-sponsored start-up incubator in the old Union Station of Kansas City, Mo., with 1 gigabit speeds.
“It was the first time I had heard from Time Warner in six years,” Usher said.
For residents here, Time Warner Cable provides speeds one-tenth of Google’s for about $5 more than Google’s $70 a month.
In an e-mailed statement, Time Warner Cable said, “Kansas City has always been a very competitive market. We are confident in our ability to compete.”
That may be Google’s greatest early achievement. Its project — even if it never broadens beyond Kansas City — has drawn fresh attention to the problem of higher cable bills, poor customer service and low speeds in many parts of the nation, local officials say.
“This should make other mayors of cities very jealous and really make people unhappy about the status quo of wired Internet access in their cities,” said Susan Crawford, a former technology advisor to President Obama and author of “Captive Audience,” a new book on cable and phone monopolies.
“What this does is, for the first time, it allows people to question the status quo,” she said.