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La Jollan exploring Google deal

Look out, Seattle. La Jolla may want to join you in being part of Google’s “experiment” in ultra-high speed broadband networks.

Called “Google Fiber for Communities,” the initiative has drawn the attention of Adam Harris — the La Jollan who sparked the drive that saved the July 4th fireworks display.

Harris, who has started talking to educators, community leaders and business people, said there are still lots of questions to address about whether he will proceed with the application, which is due March 26.

“It’s a long shot,” he added last week. But he thinks its worth seeing “if La Jolla stakeholders think it’s worthwhile” to pursue the idea.

He’s excited about the possibilities, which he said would enable “the world’s smartest researchers to stream as if they were sitting next to each other without latency ... people at home to watch Netflix instantly.”

Google says on its Web site that it wants to find one or more spots across the country where it can install networks offering “speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections.”

The company is looking for governments or other interested parties who want to help them learn about what can be done to advance the applications of broadband networks that would enable “next-generation apps ... new deployment techniques ... and openness and choice.”

Harris said it’s not clear if the fact that La Jolla isn’t a municipality will be a disqualifying factor — or if the city would support the application. Other communities who raised their hands at the initial announcement include Seattle, Pittsburgh, Sacramento and UC Davis.

Joe LaCava, president of the La Jolla Community Planning Association — the closest thing the community has to a body that pulls together all of the neighborhood interests as it advises the city council on land use matters — is one person Harris has been talking to.

“It seems that it’s a great opportunity with a modest amount of effort to see if we can meet the criteria,” LaCava said Friday. “We should be a good candidate — we’re well connected” and have a strong base of education and research institutions, community and business people.

One challenge might be in drawing a boundary that satisfies Google’s minimum of 50,000 prospective users, he added, noting that the generally accepted number for the community’s population is about 40,000 — a number that doesn’t include the UCSD campus.

“But then, it doesn’t have to be just La Jolla with a capital ‘L’ and capital ‘J,’ ” he said.

Neither Harris nor LaCava had details about potential impacts on area streets if the effort succeeds and Google needs to add underground wiring.

Harris, a business consultant whose firm offers Internet services, said his interest is purely altruistic.

“It serves no value to me other than I’d love to have this speed,” he said.

Contact Harris at aharris@calacles.com or (858) 324-4499.