Google announced that its new service, Google Fiber, will be released to the Raleigh-Durham area, which includes Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The service will also come to Charlotte, Atlanta, and Nashville, Tennessee.
Google Fiber is an alternative broadband internet provider that promises to deliver speeds of up to 1000 Mbps, which is much faster than the national average broadband speed, 11.5 Mbps. In other towns, the service also provides free, but slower, internet to participating locations.
Catherine Lazorko, spokeswoman for Chapel Hill, said Google Fiber will increase residents’ participation in digital and civic projects, provide education and research opportunities and facilitate economic growth in town.
“We’re just happy that they’re coming, it’s going to be an exciting project,” said John Bjurman, a chief information officer for Chapel Hill who is working on this project.
Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said the operation is in full public view.
“The only thing that is a secret here is that we were actually going to get it,” Kleinschmidt said.
Chapel Hill has been working with Google since last spring in order to assess if Google Fiber would work with the community. Bjurman said there were no problems with surveying in Chapel Hill. The process included meeting the requirements and going through the permit process.
AT&T has expressed interest in introducing AT&T U-Verse to the area, which would compete with Google Fiber. Kleinschmidt said he supports the competition because it signals how attractive the community is.
“We should expect others to want to participate with us,” he said. “Here in Chapel Hill, we will be a competitive fiber environment. What’s so special about this situation is that we created a competitive market.”
Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said Google has been working with the Carrboro planning department for the last several months to make sure there were no major problems. Google simulated its fiber layout in different Carrboro neighborhoods and the company assessed the town’s information technology department to make sure it was ready for the new service.
“It puts us on the map nationally,” she said. “It shows folks that we are an area that is ahead of the curve.”