Note: The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of Local Tech Wire and business editor of

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – UNC-Chapel Hill and the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro are teaming up for a bid to bring one of Google’s ultra-high speed bandwidth projects to Tar Heel country.

However, the partners haven’t gone as far as Topeka, Kansas, whose as part of its bid. Mayor Bill Bunten issued the proclamation on Monday after no city council members objected to the month-long change, The AP reported. At least they’re still in Kansas.

“We didn’t go that far,” Matt Efird, assistant to the Carrboro Town Manager, told Local Tech Wire and

Bloomberg TV took note of the local effort. Greensboro, by the way, also is seeking a Google test. ()

Town leaders did react very quickly, though. Information technology team members communicated with each other about the Google project, and city and university leaders backed them up with a plan to seek community support. “We put this together over the last week,” Efird said. The Google project “would be of great benefit to us,” he added.

Google is looking for communities to act as test beds for an Internet network that would deliver access at 1 gigabit per second. ()

Current Internet providers in the two communities and at UNC-CH include AT&T and Time Warner Cable, according to Efird.

The Chapel Hill-Carrboro-UNC-CH partnership is based on a team of people from each entity. They plan to submit a bid by Google’s deadline of March 26.

The group also is encouraging community members to participate in a public forum at 7 p.m. on March 15 at Chapel Hill Town Hall.

They also are soliciting community feedback

“A strong application will depend on identifying community resources that can contribute to the Google effort and enthusiastic community support for the project,” the partnership said in its announcement.

Google announced the project on Feb. 10.

“Google will pay for the construction and operation of the networks and will charge customers competitive rates for the service,” the Chapel Hill-Carrboro-UNC-CH group said. “Besides the great benefit to business, economic development and the home user, ultra-high speed bandwidth will enable new consumer applications, as well as medical, educational and other services.”

The cities and university have only committed staff time to the project thus far, Efird said.

Catherine Lazorko, public information officer and Kenn Pennoyer, business manager for the Town of Chapel Hill and Andy Vogel, IT manager, and James Harris, economic development director for the Town of Carrboro, are among the team members.

Thank goodness they didn’t change any names. UNC-Google just doesn’t quite have the same ring as UNC-Chapel Hill, does it?

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