Life in the Triangle is about to get faster – at least online.
Google officials confirmed Tuesday that Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Morrisville, Garner and Carrboro are among the latest U.S. cities to be outfitted with Google Fiber, which promises Internet speeds 100 times faster than existing connections and a high-definition television service.
“This kind of fast Internet is awesome, especially this time of year, when it helps you stream ACC basketball on ESPN without any buffering,” Michael Slinger, director of business operations for Google Fiber, told a cheering audience gathered for the announcement. “More importantly, truly great things can happen when a community upgrades to a gigabit network.”
Research from the Fiber-to-the-Home Council Americas, an industry group that promotes faster Internet in U.S. homes, says access to gigabit speeds increases per-capita gross domestic product by 1.1 percent, which translated into an extra $1.4 billion in GDP in the 14 communities studied.
“As a hub of creativity (and) technology and as one of the fastest-growing areas of America, this is the perfect place to show us what’s possible with the gig,” Slinger said of the Triangle.
Charlotte, Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., also will receive Google’s ultra-fast service, officials said Tuesday. Kansas City, Mo., Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, already have the service.
But Google isn’t the first firm to promise ultra-fast Internet in the Triangle. AT&T started offering a similar service in Raleigh recently, and Frontier Communications is laying a fiber network in Durham.
Local officials said the competition could help drive down access costs for residents and businesses.
Gov. Pat McCrory and seven area mayors on hand for the announcement were giddy over the potential of super-fast Internet.
“Ultra-high-speed broadband is vital for our residents to participate in today’s global economy,” Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said, adding that having the network across the Triangle “is opening the door for future regional collaborations and partnerships that may have not been possible or as easily accessible in the past.”
Advanced technology is a selling point to attract business to the region and will benefit Triangle schools and universities, McCrory said, adding that powerful broadband connections will be as important to North Carolina’s economic future as highways have been in the past.
“This is a form of connectivity, and that connectivity will bring more jobs and economic prosperity,” he said.
Raleigh business owner Ray Malouf is counting on fast connectivity to drive sales and profits. He said half of the business for nüvonivo, his children’s clothing shop on Hargett Street, is done online.
“We’ll be able to upload content faster, before the other, bigger guys maybe,” Malouf said. “We get to ride the coattails of Google, so to speak.”
Google officials said they will spend the coming months mapping where to run thousands of miles of fiber – enough to stretch from the Triangle to London and back, according to Slinger – using existing infrastructure where possible. No time frame was given for when actual construction of the network would occur or when Google Fiber would come online locally.
“It’s going to take hundreds of construction crews and hundreds of installers,” he said. “It may be a while before we get to your neighborhood, but we’ll keep you in the loop.”
During construction, Slinger said, Google officials will meet with area community, business and civic leaders to better understand community priorities and find ways for Google Fiber to speed achievement of those goals.
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