Get your gig on, developers!

The folks at the Kauffman Foundation have teamed up with Google to create a portal where folks can submit their ideas for gigabit application that could use the proposed fiber to the home network that Google plans to build in both Kansas Cities (the one in Missouri and the one in Kansas). This is one of a few programs in the U.S. encouraging people to come up with gigabit applications.

In Chattanooga Tenn. last week the city launched its own application competition with $350,000 in prize money from Alcatel-Lucent (s alu). John Wilson, Co-founder and former president of flexible display maker NanoLumens, Inc., and coordinator of Chattanooga’s Gig Prize, was discussing the contest over at Gigabit Nation, an Internet radio show run by our sometimes columnist Craig Settles.

The proposed Google network is home to another contest, The Gigabit Challenge, with prizes of up to $200,000 for the winners. If the recently unveiled portal is anything to go by, it’s hard to come up with application that use that much bandwidth without resorting to video. So far the KC folks are hoping to use their superfast network to stream local events over the web, deliver better holograms for virtual presence, install two-way cameras in hospitals and emergency vehicles so doctors could help first responders diagnose and treat patients en route to the hospital or at the scene of an accident, and more.

Of course, even as pioneering folks think of and build gigabit applications, the rest of the country is finding access to big broadband more and more difficult — or costly. Today Cox appears to have started implementing hard caps on its broadband service, according to Broadband Reports. A Cox spokesman confirmed the caps by pointing me to the Cox terms of use, which allow customers to use between 30 GB to 400 GB of data month depending on their plan , but having another ISP join Comcast, AT&T (s t) and Suddenlink imposing caps is disheartening.

So, on one end of the broadband spectrum we have a couple million people who can or will soon be able to get gigabit access, at least 60 million households that could get 50 Mbps access or above, but might face caps, and a small portion of rural Americans that will have to content themselves with wireless broadband that comes with both a high price tag and tiny caps. I know which camp I’d like to be in.