Gordon Smith convenes group to promote citizen support for Google high-speed initiative

About 30 people assembled at the Dripolator on Thursday evening, March 4, to discuss ways to encourage citizen involvement to convince Google to pick Asheville as the town where it will build a high-speed fiber-optic network that brings super Internet connectivity to homes and businesses at speeds of 100 times that of DSL and other typical services presently available. Xpress reporter David Forbes covered the meeting with live Twitter messages. Here are his assembled tweets from the meeting:

Council member Gordon Smith opens the meeting on the #googleavl effort, saying, “We have hundreds of people involved; we need thousands. … It’s not our job to become what Google wants, but to explain who we are to Google. … Google will lay super-fast fiber cable to homes and businesses in one or more cities in America.”

Ben Teague from the Economic Development Coalition, invites people to send Google videos explaining “What would you innovate?” 

Smith says people need to fill out individual applications for the #googleavl project, and tell how they will use the connectivity. This Google push will be “mass insanity, and we get to be a part of it! We’re good at insanity in this town!” 

Hunter Goosmann says if Asheville gets the Google network, it will shine a national spotlight. “People will come here to participate in that.” He says Google would take networks to every home “at competitive prices.” The super-fast fiber network would also aid WNC MAIN’s Cloud Computing project.

Smith says that with the fiber network,“we can reimagine how we do education.” 

Paul VanHeden says, getting the #googleavl fiber network would be the “economic equivalent of the railroad coming in 1823; it’s difficult to overstate how important this is.”

Michael Muller says Google wants to “get from us good ways we’re going to use this creatively… in ways they haven’t thought of.”

The meeting breaks up into separate groups to brainstorm possible applications and ways to build a widespread buzz. Ideas emerge from the groups, including: getting more small businesses involved in the #googleavl push; setting up public laptops where people can apply as individuals to Google in support of Asheville as the town to choose. One idea for the super-fast network involves using Asheville’s off-hours, idle computers to work on scientific and medical challenges. Another idea for building the buzz is to develop concise #googleavl talking points, and spread them via social networks online and otherwise. One group came agreed to push the #googleavl message out to college students and people’s Facebook friends. Another group will take the educational effort downtown, to record videos of members of the public talking about what they’d do using the fiber network, as well as to help make #googleavl’s impact clear to the public. The group plans two video-shoot days this Sat. and Sun. Smith says the public needs to be invited to make their own video recordings using their cell phones of how #googleavl can help them.

Google’s final deadline for applications for the project — individual and otherwise — is March 26.

Smith will compose a #googleavl fact sheet in next few days.

Van Heden says #Googleavl will bring a “wellspring of decent jobs” to benefit the community, not just to the tech-savvy.

Smith says there will be a town hall meeting for #GoogleAvl at Civic Center ballroom on March 18. He closes the meeting, saying to the crowd, “You are the seeds that are going to make this happen, if you follow through.”


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24 thoughts on “Gordon Smith convenes group to promote citizen support for Google high-speed initiative

  1. Jeff Fobes

    I attended the meeting and asked if we know what the impacts are on communities with this kind of high speed connectivity.

    Smith said that some Scandinavian countries and South Korea have such fiber networks.

    I think that we need to know more about what people, businesses and institutions do in those societies when they’re connected at such high speeds. That knowledge would help us evaluate if we want/need the connectivity, and to better argue why Google should install it in Asheville.

  2. Dirk Diggler

    With the $241 MILLION Google incentives paid to them by back room democrats for a Google farm near Lenoir, Google should feel really OBLIGATED to provide this service without AVL begging.

    Throw THAT in their face!

  3. Gordon Smith

    Google is willing to spend up to $500 million dollars to put the fiber infrastructure in place. Details will need to be worked out with utility pole owners and other state regulatory agencies as to some details.

    There is no evidence that Google will require any municipal investment. If it turns out there is a cost, then that will certainly factor into our decision-making.

    Getting the best internet in the country and among the fastest in the world would be equivalent to the railroad coming here in the 19th century.

    A lot more Google Fiber Initiative Facts are available at http://googleavl.com

  4. shadmarsh

    I think that we need to know more about what people, businesses and institutions do in those societies when they’re connected at such high speeds.

    They get their porn faster.

  5. Chad Nesbitt

    Way to go Gordon! Glad to see a city councilman thinking business and jobs for a change.
    I support his efforts on this matter and encourage all to help.

    This high speed stuff will bring in higher paying jobs, create more jobs, and simplify day to day activities in business.

    It is a win, win for everyone!

  6. shadmarsh

    As soon as I hear something concrete on how this is going to do something other than turn this city into an advertisement for Google, I will remove my snark…however, I stand by my porn remark 100%.

  7. Carrie

    Make sure you join “Asheville Google Fiber Network” on facebook!!

    Topeka just made a huge push by officially renaming it
    “Google, Kansas” for a month. Wow, Asheville needs to step it up!:)

  8. Hi Carrie,
    Topeka can re-name itself….it’s still Topeka. I’ve been to Topeka / Google, Ks. & Asheville is a far better place to settle.

    Asheville Google Fiber Network Initiative

    What’s going on? Google is planning to install and test a gigabit high-speed network for at a community from 50,000 to 500,000 people providing residential service at competitive rates. This means way better service for about the same money. The greater Asheville region is applying to be that partner with Google. Here is short video from Google on the deal. http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/

    What does this mean to me? Huge benefits are in store. First, a high-speed network that is 100 times faster than anything currently available will enable innovative applications, collaboration and interaction among individuals, health care, education, climate science, business, and more. Oh, and 3-D movies streaming over the net sound pretty cool, too. Second, this network will spawn new opportunities for small and medium businesses to expand, grow, and move to Western North Carolina.

    When is all this happening? The initial deadline is March 26th. If Asheville makes the cut, there will be new timelines announced.

    Why will Google pick Asheville? Asheville is the creative and cultural center for western North Carolina as well as the business hub for the region. Whether we are talking art, medicine, climate science, or education, Asheville is the regional center of excellence. The Google gigabit network enables innovative and creative opportunities that would otherwise not be possible.

    Why should I help? In addition to the whole jobs thing, there is the social aspect of this effort. Today’s citizens have the ability reach out and change their environment, their school, their town, and their world, in ways that have never been possible before. Also, imagine having doctor’s appointments from your home, no more Saturday school as education models shift with this new technology, world class climate solutions coming out of Asheville, smart grid technology to reduce energy use – The possibilities are endless.

    Ok, so I am in, how do I help? Two things, first you have to fill out the nomination form on Google’s website to give your vote for Asheville. Second, get all your friends to nominate Asheville AND get them to get all their friends to nominate Asheville, and so on and so forth…

    Great, how to I go about nominating Asheville? It’s easy. Go to Google’s website and fill in the form. Here’s how:

    Go to this website-> http://www.google.com/appserve/fiberrfi/public/options

    Click “Nominate your Community” button. (You have to have a Gmail account, if you don’t have one then just create one, no sweat)

    Then fill out the form.

    Seems easy enough but I am not great at selling things, can you suggest what I should say? Well, the intent is to get your feelings from the heart about how the network will change your home life, work life, and community life. Below are some words you can use to jog your brain. Use these to evoke thoughts and emotions and try to express them in your own words. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just sincere. Here are some of the words you can start with:

    Unified * Cultural * Diverse * Unique * Vibrant * Quality * Lifestyle * Non-Profits * Eclectic * Charming * Intellectual Capital * Readiness * Sustain * Connected * Head Start * Acceleration * Business Friendly * Scalable * Entrepreneurial* Momentum * Transformational * Environmental or you can think about “What makes Asheville the best place to……?”

    Ok, so I filled out the nomination form, what next? Don’t forget to tell all your friends to nominate Asheville to and to keep the viral chain going. Use Facebook, Twitter or even just plain old email. Just do this FAST! We only have until March 26, 2010, and then it is all over. So get moving!!

    How can I stay informed? Two ways, first go join the Facebook group that is open to the public called “Asheville Google Fiber Network Initiative”. This will keep you clued in on a regular basis. But you should also bookmark the website http://googleavl.com/ which is the collection point for blogging and sharing of videos and other media to help attract Google to Asheville. Also there is a twitter twibbon #googleavl to keep up to date on the fly.

    You can also attend the Asheville Google Fiber Initiative Town Hall meeting at the Asheville Civic Center on March 18th at 6pm to find out the latest news.

    What if I have a creative idea to help in this effort? Great!! Just go either to the Facebook page or the blogging website and reach out to the group there. This is very grassroots effort and if you have the energy and idea just make it happen and let us know how to help. Also come to the Town Hall meeting to share your ideas about how you could use this world-class network. Make videos, write music, create art – and then get it online so Asheville and Google can see it.

    Let’s make it happen, Asheville!

  9. zulu

    I think this sounds very promising and I applaud Gordon Smith for taking the lead. I just hope Asheville doesn’t prostrate itself too much before the Google God. It may come back to bite us in our upturned arses.

  10. Jason W Hill

    I am a small business owner and I am helping in this effort to bring the Google fiber network to Asheville. Google will certainly publicize the fact that they are doing this in Asheville but I think there is far more to be gained by Asheville and the entire region as this goes far beyond the city limits. I will give you three major reasons everyone should help.

    1. Google is going to invest $500 million on installing fiber network infrastructure resulting in one-time jobs bringing immediate dollars to our economy. Think Construction. This effort will then spawn direct sustainable jobs in the maintenance of the network all of which provide a living wage. Think Data Centers.

    2. Networks are the enablers of new innovation in all fields dealing with information management. They are also the hindrance when their speed restricts creative and entrepreneurial forces. The Google Fiber network, at 100x the current speeds for most small business and residential customers, lays the groundwork for releasing these forces. This will result in new jobs in new industries that can lead us out of this recession. The opportunities are extraordinary.

    3. The jobs described will be fulfilled by the students at our local colleges and the students and children growing up in our region. Currently we educate these young people then send them off to other regions of the state and country because of the lack of employment in WNC. Parents will no longer have to count on their children moving away. The kids that chose our colleges and universities because they love the mountains would be able to plan to stay and build their lives here.

    So Google gets some publicity but we get all of the above. In my mind that is a sweet deal. This is the only good thing I can think of in this city in which people on each end of the political spectrum can get behind and join forces as noted in the previous comments. I hope you will join in the effort as well and give this your support and encourage your friends, neighbors, family and co-workers to do the same. Join us on Facebook at “Asheville Google Fiber Network Initiative, visit us at our website http://googleavl.com and follow us on twitter at #googleavl. Thanks for reading.

    Best regards,

  11. I like Gordon’s analogy to how railroads changed the fate of certain towns and cities in America.

    Town and Cities (and commerce) grew up around the Railroads. Towns went to great lenghts to get the railroads located in their existing towns because they had the foresight to know that the trains meant jobs and better lives for their families.

    Yes…there were downsides. Yes…in some cases the Railroad owners and speculators bought up the town and controlled everything from rent prices to politics.

    BUT…it was still worth doing. Many of those towns which were skeptical about the benefits of the railroads lived to regret it. They became ghost towns where there were no jobs, no services, no chance of a better life for their families without uprooting and moving to the Railroad towns.

    Asheville needs to be among the leaders in getting highspeed broadband even at the risk of future costs and charges from Google.

    Sticking our heads in the sands and letting other cities move to the front of the line is fine if Asheville wants to be “just a tourist town” or “just a town for rich retirees”.

    But if we want our young people to have a chance to make a decent living for their families here in Asheville, BRING GOOGLE FIBER NETWORKING TO ASHEVILLE NOW.

  12. Dpewen

    Now now william … don’t be so negative! It will happen and you will have to accept it! Why are you so bitter?

  13. Ashevegasjoe

    I feel that Chad agreeing with Gordon is a sign of the apocalypse, Jesus is coming.

  14. missemmalee

    There are a LOT of unanswered questions here -and a lot of unrealistic expectations. A fiber network is useless if it’s only going to be bottlenecked as soon as it tries to access another area, which is has to do, in order to be on the internet.

  15. Carrie

    Many of you people are so negative!! This is a huge opportunity for Asheville to be a part of something groundbreaking… not to mention create jobs for so many people in need! I’m really excited by the prospect of this:)

  16. Jason W. Hill

    If you caught the news yesterday, Cisco introduced the CRS-3 router, which is 3x faster than the current best router and transmits 322 terabits per second (yes, terabits 1000x a gigibit rate!!!). That is the backbone increase that will support gigabit networks throughout the US. So the backbone will be there and ATT and Verizon will be buying them in addition to Google. The expensive part is the “last mile” in getting fiber into each home. That is why this is such a great opportunity. Google is willing to build this house by house test market.

  17. missemmalee

    How much do they cost? I doubt that Google is getting into the ISP business – are they? You’re going to be calling Google when email goes down? Those routers are $$$. What about the servers?

    There still isn’t the same fiber connection between us and Raleigh, even is AT&T or Charter jumps on this.

    I am NOT being negative, but just pointing this stuff out, it’s great that we have this, but I believe there is better ways of showing how Asheville can benefit from a fiber network.

    I believe we should be showing Google how financially we would support (aka “money” or “subsidies” ) future growth of the network they are will to invest in. That’s the big last mile..

  18. Gordon Smith


    You’ve clearly thought a lot about this, and I hope you’ll help by filling out a community application and generating some internet buzz.

    In their request for information, Google does not indicate any request for subsidization. Normally companies are quite overt regarding their financial needs for project placement.

    Someone is going to get this network. I’d like it to be us.

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