On February 19, 2014, Google announced it was bringing it’s Google Fiber service to 34 more cities across the US in addition to areas its currently building out. Every city in the Triangle is eligible for getting Google Fiber, provided a certain set of prerequisites are met. Those conditions include completing a fiber ready checklist and conducting in depth studies evaluating everything from existing infrastructure to topography.
Cary (and other Triangle municipalities) passed the first hurdle recently by submitting their fiber ready checklist to Google. A fiber hut license agreement was also approved with Google. A fiber hut is a structure that will be used by Google (and potentially other providers) to store network and fiber infrastructure equipment. It will be used to connect homes to the fiber network to be constructed. Cary will need 3 to 5 of these fiber huts to support a Cary build out.
More on the role of a Google Fiber Hut:
The hut connects Fiberhoods – or gerrymandered fiber zones – to the ring.
Thousands of individual glass fibers enter the hut and send signals between your computer and the internet. From the fiber hut, cabinets – called telecom cabinets – make the network even more complex. These cabinets can be seen on the side of the road in front of neighborhoods. They divide the fiber into bundles which travel out of the cabinet to groups of homes. A fiber cable then travels from there above ground on telephone poles – a much more cost-effective deployment than the alternative – or continues underground delivering a single wire to each individual home with Google Fiber Gigabit internet and TV service.
The great thing about the agreement is that providing this same deal of other potential service providers is a requirement. So if AT&T so desired to adopt a similar infrastructure, they could get access to the same pricing and terms that Google gets.
I’m pretty eager, if the Triangle is selected, to observe the actual build out. In a good portion of Cary, infrastructure is buried in individual neighborhoods. For example, in my neighborhood, my house is provided power, cable (coax), and telephone service using an underground infrastructure. Luckily, along the main roads, a lot of it is carried on poles. With that said, I witnessed the AT&T U-Verse fiber build out (AT&T runs fiber to a neighborhood VRAD/termination point, then uses existing copper cabling to connect existing homes). I noticed they buried all of their fiber, so Google may go the same route.
The inkling of Google bringing their fiber network to the Triangle has forced AT&T to get their act together and they announced a gigabit build out in collaboration with the NCNGN (North Carolina Next Generation Network).
In my experience, the Triangle, is one of the luckier places in the country in that many communities have access to 2 or more decent solutions for internet and cable. I was a longtime Time Warner subscriber, who switched to AT&T U-Verse (though I currently only have an internet subscription, but I’ll be bringing TV back in time for football).
The Town of Cary has a great website where they post the latest information as they progress on the adventure of bringing Google Fiber. I’m looking forward to connecting my in-home gigabit network to the internet at gigabit speeds.
Why is Google Fiber important? Local competition, incumbent providers have gotten comfortable (and lazy). Services, content, applications, etc. powered by the internet continue to evolve. This evolution will continue to increase demands on infrastructure. Google Fiber is forcing providers to rethink the value they offer to consumers. The infrastructure being built will undoubtedly spur innovation. Faster, more advanced networks provide more opportunity for growth, creativity, and innovation than slow networks.