About eight weeks after Google introduced its Google Fiber gigabit speed broadband Internet and TV service in Austin, the company is reportedly getting ready to do the same in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.
A formal announcement could come as soon as this week, and work on the project could start April, WRAL Techwire said, quoting an unnamed source that apparently has inside information on Google’s plans.
Google has apparently invited city officials in Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte to events scheduled for later this week where the announcement could be made.
According to WRAL Techwire, Google has started looking for drill crews to help it build out the fiber network in North Carolina over the next several weeks. The company has also been in discussions with local government officials on obtaining the zoning permits and access rights needed for positioning “fiber huts” for protecting the equipment used in the broadband network, Techwire said.
Google did not confirm or deny the reports. Instead, a spokeswoman from the company merely noted that Google has nothing to announce at the moment. “We don’t have an announcement to share just yet,” she said in an emailed comment.
News of Google’s reported plans to roll out its Fiber service in the Research Triangle area are no surprise. Google has previously identified Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham as one of nine metro locations in the country where it will first introduce its high-speed Internet service. So far, the company has already introduced the service in Salt Lake City, Kansas City and Austin. Consumers in areas where the service is available can get gigabit speed Internet service for between $60 and $70 per month and a TV and Internet bundle at starting prices ranging from $120 to $130.
In addition to the Raleigh-Durham area, Google over the next few months will lay thousands of miles of fiber in Portland, San Jose, Phoenix, Nashville and Atlanta. A total of 34 communities, or “fiberhoods,” as Google calls them, in these nine metro areas are slated to receive Google Fiber as part of the company’s initial gigabit Internet rollout.
Google itself has said that much of the impetus for the company’s broadband initiative comes from consumers and small businesses. Activities like movie streaming, online file storage and video chatting have all driven demand for gigabit speed broadband connections, Google has maintained.
Ultra high-speed Internet service can also deliver an economic benefit to communities where it is available, Google has previously noted. The company points to a study conducted by the Fiber to the Home Council Americas (FTTH) last year, which found that per capita GDP was higher in communities served by gigabit Internet services, compared with communities that did not have the service.
Deploying the Fiber network is a major endeavor for Google and for the cities where it is being deployed. To deliver the service in Austin, for instance, Google will eventually deploy 3,000 miles of fiber-optic cables in and around the city, according to Mark Strama, head of Google Fiber in Austin.
It’s a task that involves not only tunneling through Austin’s limestone to create a path for the underground conduit but also reconfiguring existing communications and power lines to accommodate to the new fiber cables, Strama said.
When Google starts rolling out its fiber service in North Carolina, it will run up against AT&T, which is also in the process of deploying gigabit service in the Research Triangle Park area. Another company doing the same thing, according to WRAL Techwire, is Frontier Communications. It is not clear whether Google will buy or lease any dark fiber from AT&T, but Frontier has said it won’t, the news report added.