Google to announce 'community or communities' to host its broadband testbed by year's end

The manifest belief that Google's project could assist local economic recovery has even led some communities to take drastic steps to get the company's attention.

For example, Topeka, Kansas temporarily renamed itself "Google" last month to show its commitment to the search company. The mayor of Duluth, meanwhile, jumped into a frozen lake on a chilly, Minnesota winter day. And for whatever reason, Sarasota, Florida Mayor Richard Clapp actually dove into a tank of live sharks on his city's behalf. (The sharks were allegedly harmless and tiny, but the mayor had not been diving before his March 18 publicity stunt.)

Consequently, Google on Friday recognized the litany of antics that have characterized its applications process, thanking the communities for showing their "love" and "interest" in the company's broadband.

But Google Product Manager James Kelly later suggested those unorthodox appeals for better Web connections signaled the importance of his company's forthcoming endeavor.

"After all, you shouldn't have to jump into frozen lakes and shark tanks to get ultra high-speed broadband," he said.