Google contractors have started identifying existing utility infrastructure in preparation for laying fiber in Highland Creek, Charlotte city officials said. These workers, who did not identify their affiliation, were in the 6400 & 6500 block of Harburn Forest Drive on Tuesday. John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
Google contractors have started identifying existing utility infrastructure in preparation for laying fiber in Highland Creek, Charlotte city officials said. These workers, who did not identify their affiliation, were in the 6400 & 6500 block of Harburn Forest Drive on Tuesday. John D. Simmons jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com

Business

Google Fiber begins work in Charlotte’s Highland Creek area

By Rick Rothacker

rrothacker@charlotteobserver.com

June 16, 2015 05:26 PM

UPDATED June 17, 2015 07:26 AM

Google has started identifying existing utility infrastructure in the Highland Creek neighborhood northeast of Charlotte as the technology giant prepares to start construction on its new high-speed Internet network.

Contractors are using a technique called “potholing,” where they manually dig to find the existing utilities to prevent any damage, said Phil Reiger, assistant director of Charlotte’s Department of Transportation. Google has told the city it plans to start laying fiber for its network and to start construction on the huts that will serve as a key part of the network’s infrastructure this month, he said.

The fact that work has started in Highland Creek doesn’t necessarily mean that community will be the first served by Google Fiber, Reiger said. Google has told the city its process doesn’t work that way, he said.

As it’s building out a network, Google divides a city into “Fiberhoods,” neighborhoods based on its design and engineering requirements. The company then asks consumers to preregister, and it brings the network to those areas that meet a certain threshold.

Never miss a local story.

Sign up today for a free 30 day free trial of unlimited digital access.

Google announced in January that Charlotte, Raleigh, Atlanta and Nashville, Tenn., were the next metro areas in line for its Google Fiber network, which promises Internet speeds that are up to 100 times faster than normal broadband. Competitors Time Warner Cable and AT&T are also rushing to bring faster speeds to Charlotte.

Google has said it’s likely 18 months away from serving its first customers. But the service won’t be widely available right away, Reiger said.

On Monday, a Google spokeswoman said the company is still working with the city to design its fiber network and hopes to have an “update to share about construction in Charlotte soon.”

Google is slated to build network hubs at 19 locations throughout Charlotte, Reiger said. Fifteen are owned by the city, one property has been sold to Google and three more locations are being worked out, he said. The city is ironing out the final details on leasing the locations.

Here are 16 of the network hut locations:

▪ Fire Station #31, Ridge Road.

▪ Water Tank, Legranger Road.

▪ Water Tank, The Plaza.

▪ Remnant Property, Old Statesville Road.

▪ Vacant property sold to Google, West Sugar Creek Road.

▪ Eastland Mall site, Central Avenue.

▪ Franklin water treatment plant, Auten Road.

▪ Statesville Road Landfill, Northerly Road.

▪ Transportation Operations, Craig Avenue.

▪ Fire Station #9, McKee Road.

▪ Landscape Management, Tuckaseegee Road.

▪ CATS Maintenance Facility, North Alexander Street.

▪ Sugar Creek Wastewater treatment plant, Closeburn Road.

▪ Fire Station #32, Bryant Farms Road.

▪ Police/Fire Training Academy, Beam Road.

▪ Vacant parcel, South Boulevard.

Rothacker: 704-358-5170; Twitter: @rickrothacker