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The Daily Tar Heel

Google Fiber installation progresses in Chapel Hill and Carrboro

UNC's Graduate and Professional Student Federation has been working closely with Student Government in a bid to earn a seat on the Board of Trustees.
UNC's Graduate and Professional Student Federation has been working closely with Student Government in a bid to earn a seat on the Board of Trustees.

Google Fiber will provide high speed broadband internet that is up to 100 times faster than average broadband, as well as high definition TV service through a network of fiber-optic cables.

Along with Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Google has selected other towns and cities in the Triangle, including Cary, Durham, Garner, Morrisville and Raleigh.

Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews said there has been a positive response to Fiber from residents and local businesses.

“We have a lot of startups and small, entrepreneurial-type businesses in Carrboro, so they are looking forward to Google coming in town because bandwidth internet is very expensive,” said Andy Vogel, information technology director for the town of Carrboro.

Google worked with the town staff to select locations of Fiber Huts.

“(The Huts) act as an aggregation point for about 22,000 households, so Raleigh has several and Chapel Hill and Carrboro get one each,” Vogel said.

The Fiber Hut in Chapel Hill will be adjacent to the lower parking lot of the Chapel Hill Public Library, and the Carrboro Fiber Hut is off Fidelity Street behind Westwood Cemetery.

Vogel said Carrboro’s Hut is nearly complete.

Scott Clark, executive director for technology for the town of Chapel Hill, said permits are nearly approved for the Chapel Hill Hut, and construction will take four to six weeks.

Andrews said the town worked to make sure the building was inconspicuous and aesthetically pleasing.

He also said a few neighbors near the Fiber Hut in Carrboro were concerned about noise from the Hut, but he doesn’t think it will be an issue.

Clark said a Fiber Hut in Durham will connect to the Hut in Carrboro.

The towns’ Fiber Huts are on two different loops to ensure that if there’s a problem with one, the area will have a nearby backup internet source, Clark said.

“For Fiber, there are two types — one, what we call the backbone, connects the Huts to one another,” he said. “And then there’s the Fiber that will go to the homes.”

Once the backbone is installed, people can sign up and pay a fee to have cables installed to bring Fiber to their homes.

Clark said no one knows Google’s timetable, but it will probably be 12 to 18 months before cables will be laid for homes to have Fiber access.

Vogel said Google has been careful to avoid disrupting residents’ lives with construction.

“We’ve had other vendors come in and are very destructive (to people’s property),” he said. “Google is taking a different approach.”

Google announced in July 2015 that they were committed to providing free internet access to public housing neighborhoods in all Google Fiber cities, including Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

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Clark said several housing units either have town-sponsored free Wi-Fi access or have internet through an AT&T service similar to Google Fiber.

He said as Google installs the network, they will install it in public housing neighborhoods free of charge.

“(Google Fiber is) important for economic development,” Andrews said. “We need high speed internet to help address digital divides so that our underprivileged folks can have inexpensive or free internet access.”