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Cary, NC Makes Progress with Google Fiber & Huts

Posted on May 9, 2014

After our earlier posting about Google's intentions to move to several large cities in North Carolina, we noted that the ball would now be in the court of the local officials to make progress on Google's demands. Google requires certain infrastructure and licensing to be in place before deploying its Fiber network to new regions and has a strict "checklist" that towns must complete before the company will proceed.


In an official statement today, the Town of Cary announced that it has unanimously agreed to Google's fiber hut licensing and leasing terms; this agreement will enable Google to make use of upwards of five fiber huts for light relay and transfer stations, which would effectively propagate optical signals to business and residential buildings. In speaking with Cary officials, we learned that the Town would lease the property, but Google would own the hut and its included equipment.

What is a Fiber Hut? 

A fiber hut is a small building -- Cary's spec says 10x30 ft. in size -- that houses relay infrastructure for the central fiber optic network. The fiber optic network to be deployed in Cary will have a central location with its light source, servers, and other necessary infrastructure to distribute the signal. In order to propagate the signal to reach all the deeper pockets of the city, the signal has to hit relays (huts) along the way that further split the signal to individual housing and business sectors.

We were told that each hut is capable of deploying fiber to approximately 20,000 homes, with variance based on topography and other existing obstacles.

A normal cable line uses electrical signaling for data transmission, but fiber deploys laser light signals on fiberglass wire (often identifiable by its orange housing) to eliminate the higher latency of cable lines. Naturally, this also allows significantly faster data transfer at higher efficiency due to the use of light as the data relay agent. Google Fiber speeds have reached in excess of 1 Gbps (~1000 Mbps, or roughly 125 MB/s), where locally-embedded TWC and AT&T struggle to hit their advertised 30 and 50 Mbps ratings. If all goes as planned, Google Fiber's advertised speeds would exceed what TWC distributes by approximately 30x over, depending on which part of the city we're looking at.

The Town noted that the leasing payment would net $4200 to $7000 annually and is "one of many items on a checklist provided by Google that must be completed by the Town." Cary officials are now working with Google to designate appropriate fiber hut locations. When asked if Google would be installing its own cable or plugging into existing lines, Cary Technology Services Director Bill Stice told us that the two groups would coordinate to determine if existing empty conduits and dark fiber lines could be used by Google. If present, this would expedite the process of the company's fiber installation, should they decide to deploy in Cary.

The original timeline provided by Google was to reach a decision by 4Q14 as to whether Cary would be receiving Fiber. At this time, the company will re-evaluate all NC locations originally listed (to include Carrboro, Charlotte, and Raleigh, among others) and determine where Fiber will be installed. 

- Steve "Lelldorianx" Burke.