Google Fiber formally disclosed launching the construction of its Triangle network today, but it’s starting from behind. However, J. Erik Garr, the head of Google Fiber for the Triangle, says the company is ready to take on competition such as AT&T and Frontier, which have a big head start in the gigabit Internet market. He also talks about a wide number of issues in a Q&A with WRAL TechWire.
AT&T, Frontier and CenturyLink already are offering or will soon offer gigabit Internet access in Triangle markets. Is Google prepared for the challenge of competition? How does Google plan to compete with so many providers? Why do you believe consumers will prefer Google?
We’re thrilled that more people are talking about and building their own gigabit networks. It’s exciting to think about all of the users who will have access to gigabit speeds at reasonable prices. With Google Fiber, we aim to be great members of the community, making investments in helping more people get online, providing quality customer care, and offering a reliable superfast Internet connection.
Across Google, we’re always pushing ourselves to innovate, and we’re bringing that same approach to Google Fiber as we find ways to constantly improve our service.
What were the key factors in Google selecting the Triangle for fiber deployment?
The Triangle is a world-renowned hub for great universities, rapid innovation, and a thriving biotechnology sector. We’ve seen that the Triangle’s tech-savvy, entrepreneurial residents are excited about using new technology like gigabit connections—and they have the skills to use a gig to develop applications for the next generation of the Internet. The Triangle’s city leaders have a vision for how gigabit connectivity can make the community stronger, and they’ve worked really closely with us to develop a clear plan for how to build Fiber throughout the area in a way that’s efficient and the least disruptive.
Are the 26 fiber huts sufficient for the network at full build or will more be sought at a later date?
We work with cities to find suitable locations for the huts. We prefer to place these huts on unobtrusive, unused land so they don’t get in anyone’s way — for example, near an electrical substation or water treatment plant. These huts will be built all over the metro area, and will be able to serve neighborhoods throughout the Triangle.
What municipalities has Google struck agreements with to this point in the Triangle area? What ones if any are still pending?
Since we first announced Google Fiber would come to the Triangle, our team of engineers has been working closely with cities across the metro area to design our network—preparing permitting packages, creating a detailed map of where we can put our thousands of miles of fiber, and plotting out existing infrastructure such as utility poles and underground conduit. We’ll continue to work closely with each city as we build our fiber network.
Can Google provide a cost estimate for the initial phase of the buildout? If not, at least a range in costs? What would total investment be at full buildout?
We don’t have specific financial details to share. However, it’s important to note that we’ve worked closely with cities to streamline processes that help keep costs of construction down.
When do you expect the first deployments to go “live”?
We’re beginning our full construction efforts in the Triangle, including different types of work such as stringing fiber along utility poles or burying it underground. You may notice crews in the area, but please note that we’re not bringing fiber to homes or businesses just yet.
What is the time estimate for full deployment?
It’s still too early to say. We have a lot of construction work to do first. We’ll make an announcement as soon as we have an update about timing.
Will costs for services reflect those as in other markets? Please explain any differences.
We don’t have any specifics to share just yet on plans or pricing, but we can say that our offering will be similar to our existing Fiber cities: Kansas City, Provo, and Austin.
Is Google including Wi-Fi in the network and if so in what areas? Will there be fees to access Wi-Fi?
Right now, we’re focused on building a brand new fiber network, bringing fiber-optic cables all the way into people’s homes and businesses throughout the Triangle. Of course, anyone who has access to Google Fiber may choose to connect over WiFi.
Will Google offer a suite of services to businesses? Please explain who and what, or why not.
We’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for our small business product in Kansas City, Austin and Provo. Though it’s still early and we don’t have specifics to share, we know that small business is a big deal in the Triangle, and we’re looking forward to bringing Google Fiber to small businesses in the city.