North Carolina could be next in Google Fiber roll-out

Reported launch would be first in a big expansion planned for this year

Two cities in North Carolina could be the first to benefit from a planned expansion of Google's fiber-optic Internet service.

The company is holding events in Raleigh and Durham on Wednesday and Thursday next week, apparently to announce selection of the cities as roll-out locations for the service, according to local TV station WRAL. Construction of the service could begin as early as April, the report said.

The two cities, which along with Chapel Hill make up an area known as Research Triangle, were among a preliminary list of 34 locations that Google said last February were in the running for its high-speed Internet connections. The company said it would begin working with the cities to explore deployment of the service and provide more details on its planned roll-out towards the end of 2014. However, to-date, no further announcements have been made.

Google Fiber is already available in Provo, Utah, Austin, Texas, and Kansas City. It delivers a "basic speed" service of around 5Mbps for no charge but customers must pay a construction cost of $300. A gigabit-per-second Internet service costs $70 per month and a third option bundles Internet and more than 100 TV channels for $120 or $130 per month depending on market. Installation costs for the two latter packages are waived.

In addition to fiber Internet, the company has told the 34 prospective cities that it is considering deploying Wi-Fi service in the areas covered by Google Fiber.

One of the other cities in the running, Palo Alto in Silicon Valley, said this week that it remains in conversation with Google on launch of fiber Internet there.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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