Getting Google fiber in Asheville: “We get to be a part of the insanity”

Gordon Smith and others discuss why Google’s fiber project belongs in Asheville at the first public meeting on the effort, at the Dripolator, March 4. Video by wumedia

Excerpts from “The Model Is Not Reality” blog:
Why Gigabit Internet Access? First, why would anyone need gigabit Internet access? With traditional broadband speeds approaching 10 Mbps, consumers can already stream live videos to their TVs, listen to podcasts and broadcast webcams of their children to their grandparents.

Three reasons:
  1. Home Healthcare
    The doctor’s office of the future will be your own house. From portable full body imaging to robotic telemedicine to multimedia monitoring of home health patients, remote medicine will increase the speed of services and give rural residents access to a greater range of experts. …

  2. Remote Employment
Rural workers today have it tough two ways: the economy and their location. Either way, jobs are hard to come by. Thus far remote workers have generally been knowledge workers working from home. Factory workers, healthcare professionals and others have been left out of the remote work revolution.

A combination of high bandwidth access and human-controlled robotics will allow workers to work remotely in an ever increasing number of fields, allowing workforces to be allocated geographically in real-time to where their experience is needed most. From oil rigs to telemedicine to construction, remotely controlled robots controlled by trained humans will become the norm. Assuming, of course, the bandwidth exists to support these applications. …

  3. Rural Education
For poor rural families, the educational choices parents have for their child are slim. The local school may not have the programs that tap into their child’s full potential. Yet they cannot afford to send their child to a private boarding school. Many rural communities may have magnet schools that are too far to attend.

At-home and in-school telepresence becomes the key which unlocks new possibilities. By allowing students to attend classes remotely, schools can provide higher level courses with specialized teachers. Schools with limited funding can take virtual school trips to exotic locations. …

For the full text visit The Model Is Not Reality


About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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11 thoughts on “Getting Google fiber in Asheville: “We get to be a part of the insanity”

  1. missemmalee

    Good Lord..Really, did this go to Google?
    “Search Engine Optimiza..ion Guy”
    “Charter sucks”
    “You have friends, you have email?”

    Please, please, please get some intelligence and interview a company that would put fiber for what it’s really for: The growth of AVL Technologies, TSA Choice, Mission. This video does nothing for Asheville.

  2. Gordon Smith


    This is only one of many community videos being produced by volunteers who want to see Google in Asheville. Thanks for your input, and I hope you’ll jump on board and make the video you’d most like to see!

  3. missemmalee

    I am sorry if I come across as harsh, but videos and questions like these make our town look like your typical, trust-fund latte town.

    As some vying for public office, I’m surprised your energy hasn’t been focuses more on the larger aspect of this opportunity. Get out there an interview some of the larger tech companies here, interview the University, NOAA – there’s so much more that Asheville can do with this than what is showcased on the front page of our local weekly.

  4. Gordon Smith

    Thanks again, missemmalee, the types of interviews you mention are also being conducted. There are going to be a lot of videos, and I’d also like to encourage you to get out there and make the video you’d most like to see.

    We’re walking and chewing gum. There are efforts going on in twenty different directions, and they’re all fueled by citizen engagement – a decentralized campaign that will produce all sorts of things.

  5. I most definitely support getting Google fiber to Asheville and I realize everyone is caught up in the rush to meet the deadline to get in Asheville.

    However, I’d like to know what are the plans for what happens once we actually get it here? As one speaker at the Green Drink meeting said last night (Mar. 12), “I’d like to be selling my (goods) to people who make $60,000 rather than people who make $17,000 a year.” That came across as just another rich white man who only cares about connecting to other rich white people. Where is the community in that statement? I bet if he starts selling to the $60,000 a year folks, he’ll certainly need an assistant. How much is he going to pay that assistant? $8 an hour? $10 an hour? Or a higher, fairer wage? I hope the latter.

    I keep hearing how fiber could possibly help students during snow days, that they could go to school that day on their home computer. Really? This will help all students? Do you think single parents who work two jobs and have five children at home can afford a computer, much less internet access? Will Google fiber be offered to all customers for free? And if that parent is lucky enough to have one computer at home, I doubt they’ll have enough computers for each one of their children to use to connect into their individual classes.

    There are many people in this community who do not know very much about technology. They might be happy to have faster service for emails or playing games. But, how will they actually benefit from Google fiber? How will their lives be changed? And, besides, Google doesn’t want to hear that people will be happy to have faster email service, but I bet that is the attitude of many, many people in this community.

    Let’s face it, people. Asheville has a good deal of industry in this town where the bottom line worker is not compensated fairly. Will Google fiber changes their lives, i.e., put more money into their pockets? Yes, faster internet services will certainly attract more industry, particularly in the technology field and will, hopefully, pay those $60,000+ salaries. But, I doubt those companies are going to jump $9 an hour bottom line jobs up to $15 an hour or more.

    One of the reasons companies move to Asheville is because they know they can get a dedicated employee (who doesn’t want to leave Asheville) and for a cheaper price than in bigger cities. I know this first hand. It was told to me by a CEO of a technology group who deals in selling enterprise software solutions around the country. I know they’ll certainly take advantage of Google fiber so they can increase their profits. However, the salaries of the employees will most likely not rise proportionately.

    Again, I’m all for Asheville getting Google fiber; I’m just concerned that in our rush to win the deal, the bigger picture is not being taken into consideration and people on the bottom end of the pay scale will not reap any of the benefits. As well as working on getting Google fiber to Asheville, there should a task force working on making sure the opportunity actually helps all the people in Asheville, those at the end of the pay scale who are the ones who really make this city happen.

  6. Hi Missemmalee,
    The video above is just one of many, and is somewhat raw footage. Lots of footage has been shot so that a good representation of Asheville’s grassroots enthusiastic community will be represented. Since were have an embarressment of riches as per Universities in the area, I feel certain that the end product will reflect that….along with some good clips on our corporate assets.

    What was shown here is only a miniscule part of the whole effort. That said…it’s always good to get critical feedback that points out how our proposal could be the best possible.

  7. Jason W Hill

    A great video showcasing Western North Carolina/Asheville has been produced and posted to

    I would encourage everyone to watch as it is informative for even those who live here. Also please consider joining our Facebook group “Asheville Google Fiber Initiative” and following #googleavl on Twitter. We have a town hall meeting for everyone to be involved on March 18th at the Asheville Civic Ballroom at 6pm.

  8. Piffy!

    I am becoming more and more convinced that Gorden Smith and the rest of the “Go Google” crowd have no idea what the F#$% they are doing whatsoever. It sounds like they think Google is going to turn asheville into an episode of star trek. its pitiful.

  9. who

    Ask not what Google can do for Asheville, but rather, what Asheville can do for Google. What can Asheville do for Google? What does Asheville have? Bele Chere, mountains, AB-Tech, UNCA, an involved community, a forward looking city council, Hatch Fest, a strong medical industry, good food choices and retaurants, Greenlife, Earth Fare, a beautifull city,…

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