Chapel Hill and Carrboro are on the list of 34 communities across the country that are being considered for Google Fiber, a broadband network of ultra high speed internet.
Regional cities that also made the list include Cary, Charlotte, Durham, Garner, Morrisville, and Raleigh.
“Folks like Google and others see us as an important place to invest in this kind of infrastructure. I am very excited to have that acknowledged,” said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt.
In 2009, towns interested in becoming Google Fiber communities submitted applications for the project. Carrboro Mayor Lydia Lavelle said it speaks well for the area that Carrboro and Chapel Hill are being considered.
“We are already ahead of the game. I think a lot of that kind of forward thinking will pay off for us one day,” Lavelle said.
Kleinschmidt said the good news is that Google could chose to move forward with both Chapel Hill and Carrboro.
“We are not in competition with Carrboro, Durham or Raleigh, or the other cities that are a part of this announcement,” he said. “My understanding is that we are all in this together as a Metro Region.”
Google representatives will work with staff from Carrboro and Chapel Hill to map out a potential Google Fiber network and also assess what challenges might arise. According to Google’s blog, the plan is to provide updates by the end of the year naming the cities that will be getting Google Fiber.
Kleinschmidt said Chapel Hill has various initiatives underway which will make it an attractive candidate for the project. This includes a recently completed fiber optic project that installed about 30 miles of municipal fiber optic cable connecting 15 Town facilities.
“I believe we are the only municipality in North Carolina that actually owns fiber in the ground. It stretches just into Durham and all the way through Carrboro,” Kleinschmidt said.
That network of fiber optic cables in Carrboro, Lavelle said, creates a “backbone” for potential high-speed vendors.
“I would venture to say that we are more in partnership with Chapel Hill in the sense that we are almost seamless in efforts to provide broadband to our residents,” she said.
Lavelle added that this opportunity could also provide high speed broadband internet to residents who might not otherwise be able to afford the service.