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Google Fiber on track for NC despite internal shakeup

Michael Slinger, Google's director of fiber business operations, left, shakes hands with Gov. Pat McCrory during a press conference announcing plans to host gigabit broadband in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Cary, Carrboro and Garner during a press conference Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.
Michael Slinger, Google's director of fiber business operations, left, shakes hands with Gov. Pat McCrory during a press conference announcing plans to host gigabit broadband in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Morrisville, Cary, Carrboro and Garner during a press conference Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh. tlong@newsobserver.com

Raleigh is on track to receive Google Fiber, the high-speed internet service, despite a shakeup in the search engine giant’s telecommunications venture.

All regions under construction, including the Triangle and Charlotte, remain on the list of communities to receive Google Fiber. But 10 communities – including Dallas, Los Angeles, Portland and Phoenix – will be indefinitely postponed after a corporate review in the Google unit that resulted in the resignation of a top Google executive Tuesday.

A Google spokesman released a brief statement Wednesday confirming that North Carolina cities are still slated to get Google’s internet, phone and TV service.

“Google Fiber will continue in Charlotte and Morrisville and in fact, we’re still on track to start accepting sign-ups in six other cities throughout the Triangle aligned with our plan,” the statement said. “We can’t wait to offer superfast internet to more residents in the Triangle.”

The service is already available in eight U.S. cities, including Morrisville and Charlotte, and planned for Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Carrboro and Garner. The service costs $70 a month for the fastest internet connection of 1 gigabit, and $140 a month for the combined internet and TV service that includes more than 220 channels.

Craig Barratt, chief executive of Google Fiber, announced his resignation in a cheery blog post Tuesday, entitled “Advancing our amazing bet,” that glossed over trade press reports about mounting internal pressure to cut costs within the unit. Barratt will remain an adviser while Google Fiber lays off an undisclosed number of staffers and pauses its roll-out schedule.

“We have refined our plan going forward to achieve these objectives,” Barratt blogged about Google’s aim to disrupt technology, business and policy. “The plan enhances our focus on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast Internet more abundant than it is today.”

The New York Times reported that Google has started considering alternatives to laying optic cable, including wireless and fiber partnerships, that do not necessarily require the company to build a full network. In June, it bought a company that beams high-speed internet into buildings using a fiber-connected antenna.

Barratt had been senior vice president of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, and CEO of Access, the Google Fiber project name. No replacement was announced.

Google Fiber will give some Triangle residents true competition with a choice between Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s U-verse.

John Murawski: 919-829-8932, @johnmurawski

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