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FAQ City: What Happened To Google Fiber?

Nick de la Canal

Google Fiber's internet speed may be lightning fast, but its rollout has been painfully slow around the United States, including in Charlotte – where the company has requested no new construction permits so far in 2019.

Charlotte resident Bill Barnes wrote to WFAE'sFAQ City, asking us to look at why the rollout seems to have stalled out and whether he should give up hoping that the service will arrive on his street one day.

Credit Nick de la Canal / WFAE
Bill Barnes, a longtime Charlotte resident, wrote to WFAE's FAQ City wondering why Google Fiber's rollout seems to have stalled.

On this episode, we'll examine three possibilities for the company's slow pace of construction.

Among them, Google may not have been prepared for the realities of constructing a fiber network from scratch and was held up by mishaps like hitting water, gas and electric lines.

Another possibility: the market may look a lot less favorable to Google Fiber now that other companies like AT&T and Spectrum have begun offering gigabit internet at competitive prices.

And finally, it's possible the demand for insanely fast internet may not be as large as Google was hoping.

Later in the episode, we'll meet a Google Fiber representative inside the company's beautifully renovated brick building in First Ward and hear the company's response.

Special thanks this week to our questioner, Bill Barnes (who's also a writer and tech nerd – he's even written about Google Fiber for the Plaza Midwood neighborhood newsletter, and runs his own tech blog.) Thanks also to Alan Fitzpatrick with NC Hearts Gigabit andOpen Broadband, who says that even if Google Fiber never rolls out to all of Charlotte, it may still have benefitted the company in the long run.

To listen to more FAQ City stories, check out our archives on the FAQ City page. We'd also love to hear your feedback through a rating or a review.

And of course, we'd love to hear your burning questions about the Charlotte region for possible examination in future episodes! In particular, we're looking for questions about the city of Hickory – Charlotte's neighbor to the north – for an upcoming episode. Deadline to submit Hickory area questions is Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.

While you're at it, make sure to subscribe and rate/review the podcast on Apple PodcastsNPR One, and Google Play.


Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal