Huntsville’s transformation into a “Gig City” has taken a major step, and District 1 is that first.
“This is a partnership and not a promotion,” says Devyn Keith, Huntsville City Councilmember representing District 1. “Google has done a phenomenal job understanding what would work in northwest Huntsville and then how to introduce that product in our community.”
Huntsville Utilities is building out the fiber network that will be leased to Google and other high-speed providers.
The initial rollout is for residents who live east of Pulaski Pike and north of I-565 and Highway 72, stretching into Chase. Huntsville Utilities expects to have every area it serves fiber-ready by 2020; North Huntsville provided the best logistics to begin service, particularly because of on-going construction with South Parkway.
Customers may sign up through the Google website established for Huntsville customers.
“This is big not only for individuals moving into the housing market but also for businesses,” Keith said. “It’s about having the latest and greatest in innovation when it comes to the Internet.”
“It’s great to have a company that assessed Huntsville is the place to start in Alabama with a product that’s been successful across the country.”
We need roads, we need utilities and we need sewer. But we also need the infrastructure of the future, and that is connectivity to the digital world. Roads connect you from point A to point B, but telecommunication infrastructure allows our citizens to go from point A to anywhere.”
Keith noted that Google Fiber is working with some non-profits in North Huntsville and the Dr. Richard Showers Sr. Recreation Center to provide free GIG service to serve as a “hot spot” for users who might not be able to afford fiber to the home.
Google is one of several companies to announce plans to use the fiber network provided by Huntsville Utilities to provide super high-speed service, and Mayor Tommy Battle has stressed how this competition will be beneficial to users in Huntsville to keep prices affordable and customer service at a high level.
Battle’s initiative to see that Huntsville became a Gig City, with faster internet speeds, began in 2014. It was solidified when the City of Huntsville and Huntsville Utilities announced a partnership to build out a fiber network that could be leased by service providers.
“The model created by Huntsville is true innovation and Google is proud to be a part of it,” said Greg McCray, CEO of Google Fiber.
“The City of Huntsville is committed to a vision of a vibrant, growing community,” Battle said. “In order to maintain our quality of life while we grow, we need to stay ahead of our infrastructure needs.
“We need roads, we need utilities and we need sewer. But we also need the infrastructure of the future, and that is connectivity to the digital world. Roads connect you from point A to point B, but telecommunication infrastructure allows our citizens to go from point A to anywhere.”
Battle noted the importance of fiber service for a workforce that increasingly works remotely, with many Huntsville residents living here but working daily for companies in distant cities, and for smaller businesses to enhance their global outreach.
McCray acknowledged Huntsville as “a city on the rise. It’s a national leader in science and technology … a destination for a diverse, creative and entrepreneurial sets of minds.”
The presence of Google Fiber will “help grow the economy more,” McCray said, pointing to studies that show cities building for a fiber future increase their GDP by one percent, something he said that could benefit Huntsville by the tune of about $250 million a year.