With the holidays approaching, Chapel Hill and Carrboro could receive the gift of a new high-speed Internet network.
Google announced plans in February to select a small number of locations nationwide to test a new fiber network, which the company claims will be more than 100 times faster than what most residents currently use.
Google spokesman Dan Martin said the company is close to completing their selection process and will announce the trial locations by the end of the year.
Martin said the new Internet speeds will be delivered via a 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connection.
Chapel Hill and Carrboro are among approximately 1,100 communities that have applied to become home to the new network.
“We’re interested in deploying our network efficiently and quickly,” Martin said. “And we are hoping to identify interested communities that will work with us to achieve this goal.”
Martin said Google will identify “one or more” communities in which the trial network will reach at least 50,000 people and as many as 500,000 people.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said he is hopeful that the town will be chosen.
“Chapel Hill and Carrboro make up the kind of community where Google could demonstrate some success quickly,” he said. “There was a lot of community and University support for the application and a great deal of enthusiasm for the effort.”
Chapel Hill resident Brian Russell created a Facebook group following Google’s announcement to garner support for the fiber. The page has recruited nearly 1,900 members since its creation.
Russell said schools and libraries in particular could benefit from the new network.
“Fiber speeds could make it possible to do so much more,” he said, “like high-quality, two-way video and guaranteed high speeds to individual classrooms and students.”
Russell also said the local economy could prosper with the help of Google’s fiber.
“The biggest need of businesses now is access to capital,” Russell said. “High speed fiber broadband could help local businesses greatly expand their markets by allowing them to sell to the world.”
Kleinschmidt said regardless of Google’s decision, he thinks the town’s active support will fuel future advancements.
“Even if we don’t ultimately receive the attention from Google, I think it helps move our community forward to the day where we can provide that type of technology.”
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