Google gains grassroots support for super-fast Internet project

“It’s definitely gaining momentum,” said Google spokesman Dan Martin. “We didn’t expect this kind of grassroots attention.”

Google hasn’t said how many testbed markets it plans to choose, although Martin said the company will probably select at least one rural area as well as an urban locale. Google’s networks will serve between 50,000 and 500,000 people, so it would not cover an entire city. Communities must submit their ideas to Google by March 26.

The Facebook groups may play a role in Google’s choice of communities.

“We’re trying to measure, to the extent that is possible, the general enthusiasm we would see by going into a particular community,” Martin said.

Only a few congressional offices told us they'd received comments from their districts about Google’s broadband experiment. For example, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.), has heard interest from communities near Pittsburgh.

As word spreads, members of Congress will likely be pressured by constituents to get involved to bolster their community’s chances of being selected.

Adam Conner, associate manager of public policy for Facebook said members of Congress are paying more and more attention to the feedback they receive from constituents via Facebook. Not only are politicians using the social network to push messages out, they are also using it to listen.

“It’s a tool people use regularly so they feel more comfortable expressing their opinions there,” Conner said.

Google hopes to select its testbed location by the end of the year. Network deployment will not be complete until 2011, at the earliest.

“We’ll have to work with local governments—we’ll have a common interest in getting this deployed rapidly,” Martin said.