Hoping to win Google Inc.'s national competition for an ultrahigh speed fiber optic network, people packed the University of Michigan's central campus for a three-minute "flash" event designed to demonstrate their enthusiasm for the project.

Groups in Detroit, Grand Rapids, East Lansing and at least seven other Michigan communities also are making pitches for the prize. Friday was the application deadline. Google said it will name the winner by year's end.

The Ann Arbor group's program included hundreds of people singing a three-minute rendition of the "A2 Fiber anthem." That kicked off an afternoon of related activities on campus.

"Our goal is to catapult Ann Arbor's Google Fiber fight to the national level," the Ann Arbor group said in a posting on its Facebook page. A video of the event was being submitted to back Ann Arbor's bid.

Ann Arbor already has a strong connection to Google as home of its AdWords division, which lets advertisers create keyword-based ads that display alongside online search results. It opened in 2007 and has been expanding toward an employment target of 1,000.

Google also has a continuing partnership with the University of Michigan to scan books from the school's library. Google co-founder Larry Page is a Michigan graduate and East Lansing native.

Earlier this month, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm went to California to meet with Google officials to encourage them to test their new fiber network in Michigan. Google is based in Mountain View, near San Jose.

Google's experimental fiber-optic networks would deliver data at 1 gigabit per second to homes and businesses. That would be roughly 50 to 300 times faster than the DSL, cable and fiber-optic networks that connect most U.S. homes to the Internet today.

Details of the network and its uses remain unclear, but that hasn't discouraged widespread enthusiasm among would-be hosts.

"It will become a very valuable medium ... for a wide variety of activities," Douglas Lang, who started a group supporting Grand Rapids' bid, told the Detroit Free Press.

In support of its bid, Topeka, Kan., informally renamed itself "Google, Kansas," for the month of March. A group in Baltimore launched a Web site using Google mapping to plot the location of more than 1,000 residents and gives their reasons for wanting the service.


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