It’s coming: Google is bringing its high-speed Internet to Raleigh.
Company representatives announced plans for Google Fiber on Tuesday, with Gov. Pat McCrory on hand, at the N.C. Museum of History to welcome the news.
Here’s what you need to know about the highly anticipated service:
What areas will it serve?
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Google Fiber will deploy in Raleigh, Durham, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Garner, and Morrisville.
What’s the local reaction?
In Morrisville, the town council gave a standing ovation Tuesday night to Tim Gauss, the town’s director of development services. Gauss was the town’s point person for discussions with Google.
Mayor Mark Stohlman suggested Gauss change his last name to Google. He also thanked Gauss for earning him a major economic development tool as well as something a little more personal.
“I actually got some cool points today,” Stohlman said. “I got a call from my 20-year-old son, who said, ‘Hey dad, I saw you on TV, how you guys got Google Fiber. That’s pretty cool.’ And he only ever calls asking for money.”
When will the service begin?
Google has declined to say how soon construction will begin, when service will start or which areas will come online first. The rollout will happen in phases.
This scale of network growth is unprecedented here, said Bill Stice, technology director for the town of Cary. Even the deployment of the first-generation residential broadband networks in the 1990s doesn’t compare.
That first wave “was spread out over several years rather than all at one time,” Stice said. “This is going to happen very quickly. I don’t think people will really realize how much of a difference it will be.”
How fast is fast?
Google’s service offers speeds about 100 times faster than a typical broadband connection.
Tech advocates say that kind of access opens up new uses for the Internet, including the transfer of huge files for scientific research. It can also make YouTube load instantaneously, or record eight TV shows at once, or allow for band practice across the Internet, according to Google.
The company pitches its product as a potential boon to business. If a company’s employees can easily exchange large files between office and home, they might begin to work in new ways. That availability could even attract new businesses to an area.
How much will it cost?
Google wouldn’t disclose exact prices, but the company said it would be on par with earlier deployments.
In Austin, $70 per month gets the gigabit connection and a terabyte of Internet cloud storage, while the $130 monthly plan also includes 150-plus television channels.
Subscribers can also get permanent access at lower speeds for a one-time $300 fee.
What about the competition?
Google’s presence may be spurring its competitors to action. AT&T’s U-verse with GigaPower service deployed less than two months before Google’s announcement. It offers a gigabit connection, at nearly twice Google’s price, in parts of Raleigh, Cary, Carrboro and Chapel Hill, with an expansion planned for Durham.
Time-Warner Cable also plans lesser upgrades for local subscribers, maxing out at about a third the speed of the gigabit connections.
Why the Triangle?
Google chose the Triangle because of its concentration of universities and bio-tech companies, said Kevin Lo, general manager for Google Fiber.
In 2014, Google announced a shortlist of nine metropolitan areas, asking the cities for maps of utility poles, utility lines and conduit tunnels through which the company could thread its fiber. The company also has asked for “streamlined” government processes.
Who else is getting Google Fiber?
The Triangle is one of four metropolitan areas to join Google’s Internet service in the recently announced expansion, which is Google Fiber’s largest yet. The company chose the Triangle, Atlanta, Charlotte and Nashville from a pool of 21 metropolitan areas.
Google’s service now operates in only three markets nationally – Provo, Utah; Kansas City, Missouri; and Austin, Texas.