Google Fiber isn’t expected to announce until year’s end whether the Triangle will be one of its next markets. But the Internet giant’s representatives were in the Triangle again recently, examining what it calls “Digital Inclusion” programs designed to bring Internet benefits to everyone.
[Update: Speaking of inclusion, The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that “Google Fiber Leaves a Digital Divide” with “just 10%” of low income residents in six neighborhoods subscribing to the service. Are there implications for the Triangle? Read our report.] ]
Meanwhile, Google Fiber also continues to look for two “Community Impact Managers,” one for Durham, the other for Raleigh.
As we reported recently, WRAL TechWire reached out to Google, requesting a speaker to participating in its upcoming “Fiber Transforms the Triangle” event. Google declined, saying announcements about city choices aren’t coming for sometime yet. However, Google continues to talk with communities where fiber could be deployed and is looking to hire some people for ground work.
The latest visit to the Triangle, where Google already has negotiated some agreements such as rights-of-way and “fiber hut” equipment placement, involved discussions about what Google calls “Digital Inclusion.”
Erica Swanson, Google Fiber’s head of Community Impact Programs , wrote in a blog that Google is determined to “connect more people.” She noted the “digital divide” which has left “roughly 60 million people not yet using the Internet” in the U.S.
“When people are asked why they don’t have the Internet, they cite reasons you’d expect, such as cost (19% of non-Internet users). But research also shows that 34% of people who don’t use the Internet don’t yet see it as relevant to their lives, and 32% cite usability as an obstacle,” she wrote. “The good news is that cities, community organizations, and Internet service providers like Google Fiber are working to address these issues by making digital inclusion a local priority, finding new ways to collaborate, and meeting non-Internet users where they are.”
Google has found a number of different community programs it likes such as “Anytime Access for All” in Nashville. Swanson did not cite any Triangle programs on her list, though.
North Carolina’s Next Generation Network, which selected AT&T to build that project in the Triangle and parts of the Triad, also is stressing community access with requirements for community center access and Wi-Fi in some areas.
What Is Digital Inclusion?
“My team and I recently visited all nine of the metro areas where we are considering expanding Google Fiber,” she wrote. “Well before the first fiber is laid, we wanted to meet with city and community leaders to start exploring how we can work together to connect more people.”
So what does Google have in mind for these programs? She pointed out four key points:
- Make the Internet more affordable
“Google Fiber offers people one of the most affordable ways to get online, and it’s available to anyone in a fiberhood who wants it — regardless of income. In existing markets, we offer a connection to basic Internet speeds for just a $300 construction fee (or $25/month for 12 months). Homes then get free Internet for seven years, which comes out to a savings of about $900 over seven years compared to other basic offerings. For people in apartment buildings whose landlords sign up for Fiber, the service is completely free. Importantly, Fiber helps people ‘future-proof’ their home Internet — anyone who signs up for our basic service can switch up to gigabit speeds anytime.”
- Make access a part of the community
“For many people, public computing centers and community organizations serve as the on-ramp to the Internet. We’re hooking up hundreds of neighborhood institutions through our Community Connections program so people in Google Fiber cities have a place where they can get access to gigabit speeds, even if they don’t yet want the Internet at home.”
- Show people why the Internet matters
“Our rally model, which asks fiberhoods to come together to meet a registration goal for Fiber, sends us out into communities to talk one-on-one with people about how the Internet can be useful in their daily lives. In Kansas City’s Blue Hills neighborhood, Google Fiber and neighbors came together to rally for Fiber in 2012. Recently in Provo, we partnered with the United Way to spread the word in low-income areas and encourage people to sign up. National broadband experts say this hyper-local outreach is helping to spur demand and interest in the Internet.”
- Teach people how to get online
“Working with partners, we create programs that help people learn how to do things like power on a computer, use a search engine, or open an email account. For example, in Kansas City, Provo and Austin, we’re working with local universities to build teams of digital literacy trainers through our Community Leaders Program. We recruit and train college students, then match them with local organizations to run digital literacy programs in the community. And in Kansas City, Google joined local companies to help launch the Digital Inclusion Fund to support local nonprofits and community organizations that are helping people take full advantage of the Internet.”
Two Local Jobs
Google also is continuing to accept applications for a “Community Impact Manager” in Durham and Raleigh as well as Charlotte.
“The role of Community Impact Manager is to work directly with community leaders, residents, and other stakeholders to prepare for and fully leverage this new Fiber deployment,” Google says.
“The role is highly collaborative and requires flexibility and innovative thinking, with the opportunity to find new ways to inspire community action. The Community Impact Manager will represent Google Fiber in a wide range of settings — from homeowner association meetings to low-income service providers to business luncheons. It is a business-critical role that rewards you with the chance to make a lasting impact in your city.”
Google notes that there is “no guarantee” that markets where managers are being sought will be selected.
- “Communicate directly with community leaders and residents about Fiberhood design and Rally process (i.e., public speaking at homeowner associations, hosted events, and other local gatherings, as well as educational outreach to opinion leaders, community organizations, and local media).
- “Manage relationships and communications around our Community Connections program, which will offer free gigabit connectivity to eligible organizations.
- “Identify and build champions in digitally disconnected communities, drive and support digital literacy partnerships, and promote adoption of our “no monthly fee” broadband service.
- “Handle escalations that could have a PR or broad community risk (e.g. construction-related disruptions) and ensure that community needs are communicated to cross-functional Google Fiber business teams.
- “Leverage our future flagship event space as an asset to the entire community.”
Minimum qualifications are:
- BA/BS degree or equivalent practical experience.
- 5 years of related community and outreach experience.
- Experience leading nonprofits, coalitions, field campaigns, or managing volunteer networks.
- History of local community engagement and leadership positions.
- Preferred qualifications
- Embrace diversity, comfortable working with people from all walks of life.
- Excited about the fast pace and fluid organizational structure of a start-up environment.
- Strong public speaking skills.
Want to apply? Visit: https://www.google.com/about/careers/search#!t=jo&jid=43715001&