Google Fiber has finally arrived in Charlotte.
The Gigabit high-speed internet service has been turned on in the Highland Creek neighborhood, the company announced yesterday at its brand new Fiber Space on Seventh Street beside First Ward Park. That’s the first neighborhood to get the service in Charlotte, about a year and a half after Google Fiber announced it was coming to the city.
“We’re excited to see what Charlotte can create with this new technology,” Mary Ellen Player, Google Fiber’s city manager for Charlotte, said at the announcement.
Where is Google Fiber available now?
People in apartments should already have the Google Fiber hookup, so after registering they can get the install kit at the Fiber Space, or have it mailed to them or installed by a technician within 2-3 days.
People in private homes will have to get the hookup installed, which could take about a week.
When is Google Fiber coming to my neighborhood?
There are a couple of resources you can use to find out:
– There’s also a map of the “Fiberhoods,” which will be updated to let you know what progress is being made in your neighborhood and, for some, when you can expect to get the service.
Right now, the map shows that Prosperity Village is next, with sign-ups opening in 2016, and a swath of area from north Charlotte to east Charlotte to Myers Park is currently “under construction.”
Most of the rest of the county inside the I-485 loop — not including Pineville, Matthews, Mint Hill and some other areas around the edges — are in the “pre-construction phase.”
– Finally, you can sign up to get email updates about the service and when it’s coming to your neck of the woods.
How much will it cost?
Google will also offer a $15-per-month broadband plan for what Player called the “digitally divided” in Charlotte, based on data from the U.S. Census and FCC. It will also offer the high-speed internet service for free to all public housing properties it connects to.
Multiple people at the announcement, including Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and Knight Foundation Charlotte Program Director Charles Thomas, pointed to the importance of Fiber in connecting underserved communities and bridging the digital divide. Last year, Google launched a Digital Inclusion Fellowship and placed fellows with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library and the Urban League of Central Carolinas locally to build digital citizenship programs.
There are also small business plans starting at $70 per month.
What about the Fiber Space?
Starting today, it’s open to the public 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It will serve as the customer service hub for Google Fiber — they’ll demo all the products, answer questions and can get you signed up for the service, if you’re eligible — and also has WiFi, a table with power and USB hookups, and a space that can be used for events.
It’s a very clean, open space with a lot of exposed brick, wood beams and floors overlooking First Ward Park in the old Dixie’s Tavern location.
The second floor houses offices for Google employees. The company wouldn’t disclose how many people work in the building.
Is the internet really that fast?
According to the speed test I saw, yeah. My internet at home has download speeds that hit around 12 megabits per second (Mbps), if I’m lucky. The speed test at the Fiber space clocked speeds of 933.67 Mbps down and 874.75 Mbps up.
In the demo, an HD YouTube video loaded instantaneously and the website says you could download an entire HD movie in as few as 40 seconds.
Have any other questions? Tweet us @Charlotte_Five and we’ll try to answer them.
Photos: Corey Inscoe