New Google broadband service offers hope for faster downloads in Greensboro

5 03 2010

When Google announced it is looking for cities to partner with for an ultra high-speed fiber optic network up to 100 times faster than a standard connection, leaders in Greensboro and many other North Carolina communities were among the first step forward and give their support.

March 26 will be the deadline municipalities, including Greensboro, can provide a Request for Information (RFI) in order to get the service. Google is asking for information about communities so as to determine where to build its networks.

With these networks, Google has promised download speeds 100 times faster than what current Greensboro residents have now-1 gigabyte per second.

“Our networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today — over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections,” said Google product manager James Kelly in an interview with FOX News. “We’ll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.”

To promote Google Fiber, a group of folks dressed up as the "Googlers" and appeared at the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament in Greensboro in March. Photo courtesy http://googlegreensboro.com.

At a Greensboro public city meeting last week, about 15 people spoke before Assistant City Manager Denise Turner on the issue.

“This is something that could be transformative for Greensboro,” Roch Smith, who runs the local blog Greensboro 101 and attended the meeting, told the Greensboro News & Record.

Jay Ovittore founded the Facebook group “Bring Google Fiber to Greensboro, NC!” which currently has over 3,000 members. He believes there are several reasons why Greensboro could benefit from the service.

“We currently have 11 percent unemployment and this kind of infrastructure is very appealing to companies looking to locate in a city,” Ovittore said. “So it would help with job recruitment…Greensboro would be able to diversify it’s job opportunities portfolio, instead of being a single industry specific job market.”

Ovittore also said education and the healthcare system could benefit from Google Fiber.

“With our great university system here, we will better be able to retain the brainpower we train in our schools instead of having our students leave for a bigger city,” he said. “With a hospital system as good as Moses Cone is, the ability to do remote diagnosis and to transfer large digital images in full clarity would be a reality with Google Fiber.”

Ovittore also explained since Greensboro currently only has one broadband service provider, Google Fiber would allow for competition that would drive prices down. It would also alleviate the scars Time Warner left with its data capping and tier billing experiment in Greensboro last spring, which ended up being shelved.

“Acquiring Google Fiber would certainly make it that Greensboro is an innovative, forward thinking city,” Ovittore said. “We have been ahead of the curve before and I would to see us back out front again…What is most important is that our city is having this conversation about real high-speed internet,” Ovittore said.

Other North Carolina cities are following the Google Fiber trend too. Officials in Hickory and Lenoir have temporarily changed the cities’ names, calling the area “Google Holler” while they apply for the network.

-By Laura Smith

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