Wake County

Raleigh, Durham officials prepare for mysterious Google event

Kansas City was the initial market for Google Fiber, a service offering customers 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service.
Kansas City was the initial market for Google Fiber, a service offering customers 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service. MCT

A mysterious invitation to an event hosted by Google stirred plenty of speculation in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte on Thursday.

Raleigh Councilman Bonner Gaylord was one of several local officials to receive an invitation to an event on Wednesday afternoon that is to be hosted by the company.

Rampant rumors say Google will make an announcement about Google Fiber, its high-speed broadband service. Gaylord hasn’t talked to anyone from the company and doesn’t think his fellow council members have either.

“To my knowledge, nobody has,” he said. “But I think there’s plenty of speculation.”

And city staff have been in touch with the company for some time, he said.

Funny enough, Gaylord already is one of the first people in Raleigh to join the super-high-speed Internet. He got hooked up to AT&T’s newly deployed “gigabit” service, which offers speeds comparable to Google Fiber’s.

“It’s a great testament to competition,” he said. “ ... It really is phenomenal. You click on a YouTube video and it instantly plays from beginning to end.”

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

Google announced in February that the Triangle is one of nine metropolitan areas where it is considering expanding its Google Fiber service. The company is targeting seven municipalities here – Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Garner, Morrisville and Raleigh.

Google promised a decision about which markets it would extend the service to by the end of last year.

“We’ve been working closely with cities across the Triangle region to figure out how we could bring them Google Fiber, and we’re grateful for their vision, commitment, and plain old hard work,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement in December. “While we were hoping to have an update for cities before the holidays, we have a bit more work to wrap up. We’ll be back in touch sometime early next year,” the statement said.

Raleigh city staff have been close-lipped so far. However, City Manager Ruffin Hall made at least one brief comment to his top staff. He forwarded a local news story about Google’s mystery event, adding only the letters “fyi,” or “for your information.”