Harold’s Blog: Google Fiber & More
Cary, NC — This week was busy with long nights.
Monday started with the Official Grand Opening and ribbon cutting of MetLife.
MetLife Grand Opening
MetLife is a Global Technology Campus in Weston. They currently employ about 1,500 people with an average salary of well over $100,000 annually. Their buildings have room for expansion to about 2,400 employees.
MetLife is ahead of their hiring schedule that was contractually mandated, so, hopefully, they will fill up the rest of those buildings soon. It is great to have MetLife as a corporate citizen, and I look forward to their partnership with the town.
Later Monday I attempted to call council members to hear their questions and concerns about Thursday’s regularly scheduled meeting agenda items. I was only able to contact council member Yerha. Later in the day, I met with town management, administration, legal and public information to go over the agenda. That meeting lasted about 30 minutes.
Town Council Closed Session
Monday night, the council went into closed session for about four hours. The purpose was to hear from our direct reports: the Town Manager, the Town Attorney and the Town Clerk. Afterwards, the council wrote up evaluations and decided on merit pay. Council will provide feedback to the direct reports on July 2nd or July 9th.
Tuesday I joined staff members and consultants in hosting an Imagine Cary Business Roundtable discussion at the Chamber of Commerce. There were about two dozen business leaders in attendance.
Imagine Cary Business Roundtable
This roundtable discussion is an integral part of the community’s ongoing planning process which will culminate this winter with the development of a new comprehensive plan for Cary. For the first time in the town’s history, this new plan will establish our community’s economic development vision and policies, developed and designed in coordination with planning for related topics such as future land uses, housing, redevelopment and transportation.
This effort aims to ensure Cary remains an attractive place for successful businesses and a talented work force. This discussion with our business leaders focused on recommended goals and policies. The session went very well with great participation and feedback. The roundtable discussion lasted about an hour and a half.
Wednesday, I participated in a meeting with the Economic Development Committee.
Economic Development Committee Meeting
Notable items that came from that meeting included:
- There continues to be a lot of interest from businesses to locate in Cary
- MetLife officially cut the ribbon on its two buildings.
- Downtown continues to see activity even with Academy Street under construction.
- Cary’s unemployment rate was 3.4% down from 3.6%. Wake County is 4.2%, North Carolina 5.2% and the nation 5.3%.
- Available land for large office is quickly disappearing. Future large office projects may require redevelopment of existing sites.
The meeting concluded after about half an hour.
Hindu Society of North Carolina
Wednesday night, I gave welcoming comments at the Hindu Society of North Carolina for Swami Mukundananda. Here is an excerpt from my comments:
I am a fitness nut. I’m either running or playing tennis or both every day. Yet, so much of being fit is about exercising the mind and spirit. In a world of instant gratification and “more, more, more” mentality, it’s never been so important to take a pause and reflect. Reflect on the good surrounding us. Reflect on our place in our community. Embrace quiet. And while I strive to incorporate this into my fitness routine, I am humbled to be here tonight with a world-renowned teacher of spirituality, yoga and meditation who is the epitome of humility and divine love…
Afterwards, I stayed for the religious part of the session which lasted a little over two hours. That consisted of stories from their scriptures and explanations of what it means to your daily life. Needless to say, it was quite an experience and one that I will remember a long time.
Thursday started with a brief gathering of Troop 131 from Apex and Cary who were at Town Hall to watch the council meeting. I explained the agenda to them and then answered questions. We talked for about twenty minutes. I was glad to see young people involved in local government.
Regularly Scheduled Council Meeting
Thursday night, the council met over four and a half hours at our regularly scheduled council meeting. There were eight public hearings, three discussion items and a closed session.
Rezoning Requests & Budget Approval
Two public hearings that drew most speakers were a rezoning request at Chapel Hill Road and Lake Drive and a rezoning request at Westhigh South. Both of these proposals have protest petitions and will require a lot of effort to get them passed.
In the discussion portion of the meeting, council approved the fiscal year 2016 budget of $295 million, which includes a two cent tax increase from the 2012 voter approved bonds. Despite the increase, Cary will remain with Wake County’s lowest tax rate.
In other decisions, the council decided to send the Dellinger proposal near Crossroads back to the Planning and Zoning Board since it has changed drastically from their last review. After the council completed the agenda, it went into closed session.
Once returning from closed session, the council approved a motion to do an internal and external search for a new town manager since our current town manager is retiring. Staff will bring back information about the cost and process at a future council meeting.
Friday, I participated in a meeting with the NC Metro Mayors with about two dozen mayors and representatives from other municipalities. Most of our discussion focused on the sales tax changes being considered by the NC Legislature and how it will impact municipalities.
Q&A with Google Fiber
Emails this week included a notification from Google Fiber that construction in this region will begin in the coming weeks. Once construction is completed, Google will have laid enough fiber to reach London and back. Here are some of their answers to frequently asked questions:
It looks like you’re starting construction in my area. Does that mean we’ll be the first to get Fiber? Not necessarily. We’ll be doing construction all across the metro area in the coming months, but we don’t yet have a schedule for when and where we’ll be able to offer service first.
When will you start signups for Google Fiber? 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. The best way to stay in-the-loop is to sign up for more information on our website.
Are you hiring? We have a handful of Google jobs, which you can find on our website. We also rely on many contractors to bring Google Fiber to a city, and some of those companies may be hiring. You can find some of those partners listed on our website.
What happens if there are construction issues in my area? We’re going to work hard to keep disruption to a minimum. Our crews will work quickly, and, when they’re done, they’ll return the construction area to the condition they found it in, whether that means patching any holes we had to dig, repaving streets or even planting new grass seeds when needed. If any issues come up, we’ll also have a hotline available so you can get in touch with us 24/7.
How long will you be constructing in my neighborhood/city? The amount of time it takes to bring fiber to a particular area varies greatly based on the size of the area, whether we’re doing aerial or underground work, the local soil type, and even the weather conditions.
We don’t have a specific timeframe to share just yet, but we’ll try to build as quickly and efficiently as we can, and will keep residents updated along the way. Look for door hangers which will let you know that construction is about to begin on your street.
Homebuilders Association Emails
In other emails, the Homebuilders Association provided a report about building permits.
Notable items include:
- Cary had the most new single family permits in Wake County followed closely by Raleigh
- Single family permits in Cary dropped 33% during the last twelve months
- Single family permits have increased 2% in Wake County over the last twelve months
The homebuilders supply this report once a month.
Emails from Citizens
Emails from citizens included:
- A concern about trees
- A concern about a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment in the Crossroads area
- A request for assistance in getting a job
- A request to remove an access to a public greenway
- A concern about the Google fiber installation
- Criticism about not having a public aquatics center
- Criticism about not expanding CTran.
Get in Touch
Next week is a holiday week with most people getting Friday off to celebrate the 4th of July holiday. Most government offices, including Cary, will also be closed. My schedule will include meetings, welcoming remarks and a quasi-judicial hearing.
Well, that is all for this week. My next post will be on Sunday, July 5th. Although I have Facebook and Twitter accounts those are not the best means of communications with me. Please send all Town of Cary questions or comments to Harold.Weinbrecht@townofcary.org and email personal comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the blog of Cary Mayor Harold Weinbrecht. Photo with Scout Troop 131 courtesy of Mayor Weinbrecht.
To confirm David Williams’ comment, we saw that Brian Lewis posted a comment similar to the one you’ll see above on this article’s post to CaryCitizen’s Facebook. From his comment on Facebook, we viewed his Facebook profile and, according to his profile, Brian Lewis is a Digital Technician at AT&T.
I have seen plenty of coverage of the paper launch of GigaPower. Many news outlets have run all ATT’s press releases stating it was coming soon, available now in various areas around the triangle etc. Of course none of the press releases mention how it is only available to a few hundred (I assume as no numbers have ever been given) people in this apartment development or the other.
I’ve also seen plenty of coverage over the last decade as various Bellsouth and then ATT officials talked about all the coming investment and improvements in high speed internet that somehow never really materialized. This was usually right around the time of a merger.
I’ve also seen the talk of Uverse availability, including ads targeted to my home specifically even though it was built in that 2002-2009 window. The one that saddled us with D-FITL where we have fiber running on the curb, but because ATT has not been interested in working a deal with the vendor, all we can get is 3.0/384 DSL which really only ends up being 2.5/312. Too bad even the CSRs at ATT don’t really know about that and can’t give us real info about why we are stuck with such terrible service, I had to finally find a competent tech to tell me about it.
So, yes, forgive me for being interested in a company that, while new to the game and still learning has at least delivered service to a meaningfull number of homes in some markets the promises they have made. At the least, when said and done we might be lucky enough to have some actual competition. Too bad 99% of the U.S. Will not.
David Lewis should have disclosed that he is an AT&T employee, as he posted the same information on the Facebook page. Full disclosure: I do not work for AT&T or Google, though I do work in IT.
There are a number of reasons why Google Fiber is winning hearts and minds compared to AT&T's Gigapower. First, as Wade alluded to, AT&T charges extra if you want privacy, whereas Google does not. AT&T compels you to agree to have your browsing activity sold to marketers. If you don't want that, you aren't eligible for promotional pricing, and have to pay an extra $29/month.
Second, Google charges ~$70/mo regardless of where it offers service and who it competes against. AT&T only offers $70 pricing in markets where it competes with Google, but charges $110–120 where it doesn't.
Third, AT&T has data caps on Gigapower, whereas Google Fiber does not. AT&T's 1 TB cap with Gigapower can be reached within 2 hours and 13 minutes of usage. If you maxed out your Google Fiber connection, you could use up to 328.5 times as much data as with AT&T Gigapower.
Lastly, Google Fiber charges significantly less for business service, although this is so far only available on a limited basis. Where they offer it, it's $100/mo for 1 Gbps, plus $30/mo for 5 static IPs. That's compared to AT&T, whose best/cheapest service is offered on promotion for $910/mo, and is only 30% of Google Fiber's speeds!
Clearly, Gigapower is only a good option if Google Fiber isn't available to you. Hence the enthusiasm for Google Fiber.
Will there be any privacy on Google Fiber? -or will they charge more for this option as AT&T does on its Gigaband service?
We may share non-personally identifiable information publicly and with our partners – like content providers, publishers, advertisers or connected sites.
I have not heard anything about an upcharge for privacy. That sounds egregious.
Browsers track tons of user info. You could use “privacy mode” on any of the major browsers or try the Tor browser if you have concerns.
An important note on fiber internet service to the house; AT&T is currently completing work on deploying GigaPower, a gigabit speed service, in Cary and Morrisville. Service will be available starting in July. Although AT&T has a long history of experience in this field there has been little attention brought to AT&T’s efforts to compete in this market. The glamour seems to belong to the company who is choosing to learn their new vocation in our streets. As a community we should be honored that companies of this scale have chosen to meet head to head here. This competition will keep prices affordable and quality of service high. Intentional or not, as public officials we must not continue to present an image of pre-selected winners.