Kansas City, Mo.; Austin and now — Provo? The home of Brigham Young University in Utah will be the third city to receive Google Fiber.
So, what makes Provo so special? The most compelling reason for Google is the availability of an existing fiber network. Google has purchased now-defunct iProvo from the city, which means it can offer its one gigabit service to residents a lot faster than if it had to build a network from scratch, as in the other cities.
That's not the only feature that sets Provo apart from other U.S. cities. It is also home to a higher-than-average proportion of religious families — more than 88 percent of those living in Provo are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known as Mormons — who are restricted from watching porn.
Despite church prohibitions, Utah has the nation's highest online porn subscription rate, according to a Harvard Business School report published by Benjamin Edelman in 2009. He said the figures don't mean that Utahns watch more porn than those in other states, they just have fewer sources.
Utah state law makes it illegal to broadcast pornographic material over radio, television, cable and satellite systems. The one exception: The Internet.
With its unprecedented speed and affordability, Google Fiber may have an unintended consequence on the community: It could fuel online porn . Edelman said faster Internet connections translate into increased rates of porn subscriptions. In fact, broadband subscribers who purchased online porn outnumbered those with slower connections by 18 to 1. While that was back in 2008, the faster speeds available with Google Fiber are up to 100 times faster than speeds available with broadband.
Hunter Walk, a former Google executive went to Kansas City to try out the new service. "When you play with it, the gap between you and Internet totally disappears," Walk wrote on a blog post. "The computer is responsive in a manner that I've never experienced before."
There will be no waiting with Google Fiber : Movies are instantly available, whether they're a G-rated Disney film or something a lot spicier. And subscribers will be able to watch more movies with faster service, Walk said.
"Because as I found out personally, when the Internet is this fast you do one more search per session, watch one more video per session," he said.
But fiber is not the only network in place in Provo. In 2010, the Church of Latter Day Saints launched its own anti-porn website to assist individuals, families and church leaders in helping those struggling with a porn addiction. The site provides guidelines to help prevent people from becoming involved with pornography.
Among its recommendations, OvercomingPornography.org suggests installing content filters. "These are as important to your family’s spiritual well-being as a child lock on a cupboard full of toxic cleaning supplies is to a toddler’s physical safety," the website says. Further, it says that if your child is old enough to have a cellphone, disable the Internet on the device.