Google Fiber is inching closer to being a reality in Charlotte, and it’s hard not to dream big about what it could mean for the city.
Construction crews are laying down the cable daily, and sign-ups should begin in September 2016 – exactly one year from now, Mary Ellen Player, city operations manager for Google Fiber, said Thursday.
She was speaking at an event called GigWow, hosted by organizations enthusiastic about the advent of ultra-high-speed Internet in Charlotte. In addition to Google, AT&T and Time Warner Cable are also rolling out gigabit speeds across the city.
This will mean that you can download a movie to your tablet in seconds before a road trip, instead of the 45 minutes it could take now. If you work with video for a living, your upload speeds will multiple times faster, saving time and boosting productivity.
But what’s most intoxicating are the second-level effects this kind of investment could have. One person I spoke with at the event said his out-of-town friends are already talking about moving to Charlotte because it’s a Google Fiber city.
And Player said that in Kansas City, one of the first cities to get Google Fiber, the start-up community there has already seen real and tangible effects. A group of founders bought up homes in one of the first neighborhoods to get service and created a start-up village. “They call it ‘Silicon Prairie’,” Player said.
That’s the power Google commands right now. And it has the potential to let the entrepreneurs in our city to dream big. At a demo during the GigWow event, Charlotte software development company Skookum unveiled a prototype of an always-on video streaming service that could replicate the office environment for people working remotely. You can pop over virtually to a coworker physically sitting in another state.
This is the type of project only possible with reliable ultra-high-speed Internet and the development talent waiting to push it to its limits. Charlotte needs to make sure it doesn’t blow this opportunity.