Cary, Morrisville hope to welcome Google Fiber

aspecht@newsobserver.comMarch 7, 2014 

Officials in Cary and Morrisville say they are doing their part to help bring Google’s high-speed Internet and TV service to town.

The towns are among seven municipalities in the Triangle that the giant Internet company is considering for expansion of Google Fiber. They have until May 1 to provide Google with the information it needs to decide whether to set up here.

Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht wrote an open letter last month saying town staff aims to “make it easy for Google to choose Cary.”

“Citizens can trust that we will fully participate in Google’s selection process and provide them with the information they need in a timely manner,” Weinbrecht wrote.

The town has already compiled data that covers most of the information Google is requesting, said Bill Stice, Cary’s technology services director.

Morrisville hopes to collaborate with other Triangle towns, said Tim Gauss, director of development services.

Each town is different, he said, but “it seems like they are asking for predictability, not necessarily uniformity.”

Google Fiber offers residential customers 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service, nearly 100 times faster than most broadband connections in the United States.

The company is considering offering the service to as many as 34 municipalities in nine metros areas, and expects to make an announcement on expansion by the end of the year.

But first, Google wants to know about roads, poles, manholes, property lines, easements and zoning, among other information about infrastructure and permitting.

The company also wants cooperation from the municipalities to ensure easy access to information.

Cary, which is home to several technology companies including SAS, began pursuing faster Internet service months ago.

‘Competition is a good thing’

The town is among six Triangle municipalities and four universities that are part of the NC Next Generation Network initiative that encourages companies to provide broadband service at much faster speeds.

The initiative’s steering committee is reviewing high-speed Internet proposals, but Cary is keeping them confidential.

Acquiring Google Fiber wouldn’t affect Cary’s efforts with NC Next Generation.

“We don’t feel like we should be limited to one (high-speed Internet service provider),” Stice said. “The more the merrier. Competition is a good thing.”

Demand for high-speed Internet is growing as more people download music and videos from home, Stice said.

Cary Town Councilwoman Lori Bush said she’s gotten emails from more than 100 people “imploring council to do whatever we can to make it happen.”

Bush doesn’t need encouragement to lobby for high-speed Internet. She has met with Google reps, blogged about it and says her family is “about as techy as you can get.”

Her family currently has the highest Internet speed available to the Triangle – downloading up to 50 megabits-per-second – but her Netflix videos take a while to load if someone else is on the network.

If they had Google Fiber, “I could download a whole album in seconds, stream video, run my small business, share my data and not have to worry about who else was on my network,” she said.

For now, Bush said she’s stuck sharing bandwidth with her teenage son.

“Sometimes I’ll want to play video and it’ll lag,” she said. “So I have to yell, ‘Who’s on the network?’ 

Staff writer Aliana Ramos contributed to this report.

Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht

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