Knightdale residents lobby Google to get in on high-speed deal

mhankerson@newsobserver.comFebruary 28, 2014 

BIZ CPT-GOOGLE-FIBERFEEDBACK 2 KC

Installers for Google Fiber confer while working in a northwest neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas last March.

KEITH MYERS — MCT

— With record download speeds and nontraditional payment plans, Google Fiber, the search engine’s version of broadband Internet and high-definition television service seems like a perfect fit for a young suburban community like Knightdale.

There’s one problem: the town may be ready to have Google Fiber, but Google Fiber didn’t include Knightdale in its new expansion plans for the Triangle area, so the town decided to take matters into its own hands.

Starting on Feb. 19, the official Knightdale Twitter began courting the tech company.

“Knightdale has the youngest median age in the Triangle, plus affluent, educated residents. Fish in a barrel @googlefiber,” the town tweeted.

Knightdale’s Communication Director Brian Bowman said the motivation behind trying to get Google Fiber to the town is not because current service is unsatisfactory, but because Google’s service could give residents the most up-to-date technological options.

“We appreciate the providers that are here now ... we don’t want to snub anybody who’s providing service,” he said. “The fiber ... network provides substantial upload and download speeds that are more in demand than they were years ago.”

Soon after the town began their efforts, residents took matters into their own hands.

Dan Lipetzky currently lives in Goldsboro but is getting ready to relocate to Knightdale. He contacted Google Fiber through its website to make a case for Knightdale’s inclusion.

“It seems like Knightdale’s growing faster and ... it’s very young and tech-savvy community that I think would be very excited as a community to be able to get (Google Fiber), especially with everyone else getting it as well,” he said.

“I’m getting tired of (other Internet providers) and I feel like no one ever has a good experience with those so maybe Google would be able to provide a bit of fresh air,” he said.

Currently, Knightdale residents can choose from Time Warner Cable, CenturyLink or AT&T for internet services. Time Warner offers the fastest speed, at 50 megabits per second (there are 1,024 megabits in one gigabit).

Google Fiber offers 1 gigabit-per-second Internet service, about 100 times faster than most broadband connections. It also offers high-definition television services.

Right now, the service is only available in Kansas City, Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah.

Prepping for Google

Bowman said the town has had meetings about the possibility of bringing Google Fiber to the town.

According to Bowman, the town’s engineer said the town could handle the infrastructure and the only potential roadblock would be to get Duke Progress Energy to allow Google Fiber to use their utility poles, although that would be a consideration for all areas with Duke service.

The town has even contacted Google themselves.

“We have reached out to Google to see if we could be included (and we) haven’t heard yes or no just yet,” Bowman said.

Bowman said it seemed as though Google contacted towns who had applied for the service in 2010. Knightdale did not apply then.

Google Fiber has identified nine metro areas it wants to study, an area which includes 34 municipalities.

The plan for the Raleigh-Durham area includes Garner, Cary, Morrisville, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Carrboro.

The next steps for Google Fiber include each area going through a checklist to make sure their locality is prepared for Google Fiber. The company will also evaluate each municipality’s current infrastructure and housing density.

Both of those steps are meant to make sure the towns and cities are willing and able to work with Google, a problem the company wouldn’t encounter in Knightdale, Bowman said.

“As far as the Town of Knightdale throwing up red tape, I don’t see that happening at all,” he said. “We would welcome (Google Fiber) with open arms.”

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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