When Kevin Collins of San Francisco visited relatives in Kansas City recently, he didn't crash with family or check into a hotel. Instead he booked a room with Homes 4 Hackers, a part of the KC Start-Up Village, an entrepreneurial haven for technology geeks across the country.
A result of Google Fiber choosing Kansas City to launch its first ultra-high-speed Internet service, this part of flyover country is now known in tech circles as The Silicon Prairie. Collins booked his room on Airbnbn and paid $39 a night.
Located on State Line Road, the thoroughfare that separates Missouri from Kansas, the KC Start-Up Village is an unassuming collection of buildings where some incredibly high-tech, entrepreneurial work is being done. The idea is to create a density of like-minded, tech-savvy individuals who are working on new products and business services that thrive on the lightning bolt speed of Google's gigabit Internet. That's about 100 times faster than what most Americans experience with broadband service. If you still have dial up, that's like the difference between horse and buggies and driving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Your fiber tour starts at the Google Fiber Space at 1814 Westport Road. The showroom is basically a huge, cozy living room where you can sit and watch TV brought to you through Google Fiber. You can play with the laptops and tablets provided, or bring your own and sit at the counters with dozens of electrical outlets to keep you charged. Friendly--but slightly geeky staff--roam the room to answer questions. But otherwise, kick back, relax and surf for a while.
Technically, Google Fiber is a residential service, but several businesses in the immediate vicinity were outfitted with the fiber to host community showcase events and launch parties of the businesses built in the KC Start Up Village. Mud Pie Bakery at 1615 W. 39th Street is one of those businesses, where you can have coffee or lunch and, with your own laptop, surf all day at super high speeds.
Google Fiber's next cities are Austin, Texas and Ogden, Utah. But right now, the fastest city in the country is Kansas City.