Community Broadband

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Council Goal 
The Town of Chapel Hill continues efforts to increase the number of service providers and quality of broadband (high-speed internet) service to the community. The Town has prioritized making broadband available to all members of the community. We are working on the following:

North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) – This is a regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation broadband networks in North Carolina. The NCNGN members, which include the municipalities of Cary, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem and their university partners Duke University, NC State University, UNC Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University/Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center began collaborating in the summer of 2012. On February 1, 2013, NCNGN, through the Triangle J Council of Governments, issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) inviting one or more private companies to build and operate the desired networks.

AT&T-UverseWEBAT&T U-verse with GigaPower – AT&T was awarded the NCNGN contract and has signed contractual agreements with NCNGN municipal members Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Winston-Salem. The fiber broadband network agreement was signed by Chapel Hill leaders in June 2014. AT&T upgraded existing infrastructure and built new infrastructure to bringing gigabit Internet services to most neighborhoods. Gigabit speeds are a hundred times faster than standard cable Internet speeds. The agreement for Chapel Hill includes commitments to provide free 3Mbps Internet service for five years to public housing units; free gigabit Internet service to five community sites for seven years; and help developing digital literacy programs for low-income students.. In May 2015, the Town and AT&T announced that eight of the Town's public housing neighborhoods will have access to 3Mbps Internet service for five years beginning in the summer of 2015. As of the end of December 2016, five of the eight public housing neighborhoods have received the free service.

Google-rabbitWEBGoogle Fiber -- Chapel Hill was selected as a destinations for Google Fiber, making the community among a handful in the nation to have this ultra-high-speed internet service. Along with announcing its selection of Chapel Hill for a new fiber future, Google also has selected faster broadband for Carrboro, Cary, Durham, Garner, Morrisville and Raleigh. Google Fiber is Google’s Gigabit Internet service that offers Internet connection speeds for homes and businesses up to 100 times faster than today’s average broadband, as well as TV service with hundreds of high-definition channels. Today’s average American broadband speed is 11.5 Megabits per second. In contrast, Google Fiber will bring Chapel Hill residents access to “Gigabit” Internet connections up to 1,000 Megabits per second.

Google is working closely with Chapel Hill staff as it builds a brand new fiber-optic network capable of delivering these gigabit speeds throughout Chapel Hill. Google Fiber designed and planned a new fiber-optic network down to a very detailed level. As of December 2016 Google Fiber had constructed several miles of the network. Work will continue for 12 to 18 months.

In March 2015, Google Fiber, working together with Town staff, selected the location for its Fiber Hut, adjacent to the lower parking lot of the Chapel Hill Public Library. The hut is a small structure that is a critical component of the service network and will serve the entire community. The Fiber Hut and all other components of the network design and construction continue to go through the normal review and permit processes of the Town.

In July 2015, Google Fiber announced its commitment to provide free internet access to public housing neighborhoods in all Google Fiber cities, including Chapel Hill.  This moves the Town closer to its goal of providing free internet access to all public housing residents, while providing all residents with a variety of options to choose from.  Concurrently, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is announcing a new initiative to wire a select number of cities, including Durham.  See the announcement here.

Stay current by visiting https://fiber.google.com/cities/raleighdurham

Other Efforts Continuing – The Town of Chapel Hill has several efforts underway to increase access to broadband service and address the digital divide in our community. Some of these efforts include:

  • Partnering with Kramden Institute to launch the Chapel Hill Digital Literacy Program, a four-part class series covering topics such as: Computer Basics, The Internet and Sharing Safely, Public Library Services, Office Programs, and Media and Creativity. Everyone who completes the program will receive a free laptop, donated by the Kramden Institute. Twenty-three residents graduated from the first class, which was completed in July of 2015.  Two additional classes are scheduled for August and October 2015.  
  • Providing free Wi-Fi hotspots downtown and throughout other areas of Town.
  • Piloting a free wireless internet service to families in the Town’s public housing communities.
  • Providing computer hardware and technical support for computer labs throughout Town that serve children, teens, and low-income families.

 

FAQs

Q: What are the goals of the Town of Chapel Hill?

A: Efforts to bring community broadband are expected to offer a new level of participation in digital democracy and civic engagement, expand opportunities for education and research, and drive job creation and economic growth.

We also want to work to bridge the digital divide by providing computers and/or Internet service to people who don’t otherwise have access to them and by providing digital literacy programs  including training on how to use PC’s and/or the Internet and educating people about the resources and benefits available to those who use the Internet.

 

Q: What is community broadband?

A: The Town has prioritized making broadband available to all members of the community. The efforts of the Town to increase the number of service providers and quality of broadband (high-speed internet) service to the community.

 

Q: How fast is Gigabit speed?

A: It is 10 times faster than the fastest consumer broadband available in the Triangle today. For example, a user with this connection speed could download 25 songs in one second, download a TV show in less than three seconds, or download an HD online movie in less than 36 seconds.

Keep in mind that Internet speed claims represent the maximum service capability of the network. Actual speeds vary based on internet factors including site traffic, content provider server capacity, network management activities, device capabilities and use of other services.

 

Q: When can I get ultra-high-speed internet service?

A: The AT&T build-out is nearly complete with the infrastructure work completed in 2016.  Connections to the homes will occur throughout 2017 Google Fiber's construction timeframe will be into 2018. 
 

Q: Will ultra-high speed internet service be available at my address?

A: To determine whether AT&T has service in your neighborhood, check here.

To determine whether Google Fiber will be coming to your neighborhood, check https://fiber.google.com

To see what's currently available at your address, use the National Broadband Map, a tool to search, analyze and map broadband availability across the U.S. 

Do you have a question to add to our FAQs? Contact Scott Clark at sclark@townofchapelhill.org Ross Tompkins at rtompkins@townofchapelhill.org.

 

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