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The Daily Tar Heel

Google Fiber might reach Chapel Hill

Google Fiber, a high-speed television and Internet service, could soon be coming to Chapel Hill.

Chapel Hill and Carrboro, along with Raleigh, Durham, Morrisville, Cary and Garner, are some of the 34 cities included in Google Fiber’s potential expansion announced last week.

"Google Fiber": is currently only available in three cities across the country: Kansas City, Mo., Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.

“It’s an exciting prospect for our region and would be a catalyst for economic development and entrepreneurs,” said Chapel Hill Town Council member Lee Storrow in an email.

Google Fiber’s connection speeds are 100 times faster than conventional broadband services, are capable of providing clear high-definition TV, and can allow for near instant downloads.

The cities are not approved yet, and Google said it will be working with mayors and city officials in the next few months to check if the cities have ample infrastructure and the necessary resources to submit a high volume of construction permits.

The cities must submit their qualifications by May 1, and then Google plans to announce the final list of cities that will get Google Fiber by the end of the year.

Marc Hoit, vice chancellor for information technology at N.C. State University, said he is excited about the possibility of Google Fiber in the Research Triangle Park area.

He said Google could have been drawn to the area because of the N.C. Next Generation Network, which is a collaboration of universities and municipalities, including UNC and Chapel Hill, that aims to supply ultra-fast bandwidth at affordable prices.

“Because of the three universities (in the area), because of the high-tech area and Triangle Park, because of the students and the start-ups that we do, we believe that an innovation region like this would make the fastest and best use of high-speed Fiber,” Hoit said.

Hoit said the technology has far-reaching applications — two years ago, a violist, a violinist and cellist performed together 600 miles away from each other in real time using a Fiber connection.

Neil Davis, a freshman studying computer science at UNC, said Google Fiber could expand the opportunities for collaboration between UNC students.

“Possibly, it could give computer science students a better infrastructure to work on open-source projects,” he said. “This being Google, they may allow us to tamper around with Fiber itself.”

Davis said the availability of high-tech resources in the area could spur students to be more proactive in the work they produce.

“It’s inspiring enough for me to want to do computer science, not just to innovate, but also to innovate to improve our society.”

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