Category Archives: Google Fiber

The latest news from the Google Fiber team

Using your digital superpowers for good

It’s National Nonprofit Day! To mark the occasion, we’re excited to have a post from Jeff Hilimire, founder of 48in48, one of our nonprofit partners dedicated to helping other nonprofits make the most of their online presence. Jeff is also CEO of Atlanta-based Dragon Army.

“How do I find a way for my team members to use their skills in digital marketing to help nonprofits in Atlanta?” 

That was the question I kept asking myself as my first digital agency, Spunlogic, grew to almost 100 employees in the mid-2000s. In those days, we would volunteer every quarter at local nonprofits like soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food drives — but we weren’t giving back with our greatest strengths, our digital skills, which allowed us to help our paying clients build brands and connect with their customers. 

I wrestled with this question for almost a decade, understanding that in today’s landscape the ability for a nonprofit to connect with donors, volunteers, and team members through digital channels would be paramount to their success. 

Then it hit me:“What if I put on a hackathon that brought together 150 volunteers to build as many nonprofit websites as possible in a single weekend?” 

The idea for 48in48 was born. In 2015, I asked my good friend, Adam Walker, to co-found this new organization with me and we hosted our first event later that year in Atlanta. The idea was to build 48 new websites in 48 hours, pairing great digital talent with nonprofits doing essential work in our communities. That event was so well received that we decided to host a spring event in New York, followed by our second Atlanta event later in the fall of 2016. When both of those events went exceptionally well, we knew we were on to something.

In 2017, we hosted events in Atlanta, New York, Boston, and Minneapolis. And then in 2018, we put on events in six cities: Atlanta, New York, Boston, Chapel Hill (NC), Bloomington (IL), and our first international event in London!

Today, we’ve organized 14 events, helped more than 650 nonprofits, and registered 2,000+ volunteers — and we’re just getting started! 

We haven’t done this alone. Google Fiber has been a sponsor since our first year, and we’ve worked with them in a number of capacities. From serving on our board to bringing their talents to help our nonprofit clients optimize their online presence, our relationship with Google Fiber has allowed us to increase our impact. We’ve used key partnerships like this with other brands too, like Delta Air Lines and State Farm, to help us continue to scale. Without their support, we wouldn’t have been able to dream so big.

"We had a record number of users come to our application this year, which we credit to the ease of access and information on our website. Our online presence finally matches who we are as an organization – forward thinking, efficient, sharp, and in constant pursuit of
excellence. This shift moves us onto a new level for how we talk to the public, and our donors love it! We owe so much of that to the team at 48in48 for giving us an incredible website template,” said Jeannette Rankin, founder of the Women’s Scholarship Fund.

Our goal is to create a service opportunity where 10,000 marketing and technology volunteers can donate their skills for good on an annual basis. We’d love your help in this mission! Find out how you can get involved today at

At an Atlanta 48in48 hackathon, volunteers work with nonprofit leaders to develop the right digital approach. 

Posted by Guest Blogger Jeff Hilimire, founder, 48in48, and CEO of Dragon Army . ~~~ Jeff Hilimire
author.title: Founder, 48in48, and CEO, Dragon Army
category: community_impact

Bringing Webpass to Austin

When Webpass joined Google Fiber in 2016, we were excited about Webpass’s strong record of execution and growth in providing super fast, reliable Internet to residents and small businesses in densely populated areas. We knew their point-to-point wireless approach -- which provides internet speeds up to 1 gig without the need for significant construction work -- would add a powerful tool to our deployment toolkit and allow us to deliver speedy Internet to condos and apartment buildings faster than we ever could before. 

Since Webpass became part of the Google Fiber family, the Webpass team has continued to build on its success, expanding service to Seattle and Denver over the past two years and continuing to grow in existing Webpass cities. Webpass now serves tens of thousands of residents and small businesses across thousands of buildings. 

At the same time Webpass has been expanding its footprint and making it even easier for customers to get online, Google Fiber has been working to figure out how to bring Internet to customers more quickly in their cities while reducing disruption. While Webpass and Google Fiber are sister companies, our work has been separate without combining our efforts or product offerings.

Until today.

Google Fiber and Webpass are proud to announce Google Fiber Webpass, launching today in Austin:

This is the first time we’re bringing the best of both Google Fiber and Webpass together in the same city, and we’re excited to have another way to deliver super fast, reliable Internet to even more customers in Austin. We’re starting downtown and are adding new buildings to our network as quickly as possible. To help us bring Google Fiber Webpass gig service to your apartment or condo building, check out

Ready to get online right now? You can find out if service is available in your building and sign up on the Google Fiber website. We’re excited to bring Google Fiber and Webpass together in Austin and are looking forward to connecting you!

Posted by Brien Bell, Head of Webpass

~~~ Brien Bell
author.title: Head of Webpass
category: city_news

Growing the Digital Inclusion Ecosystem

Earlier this month, my teammates and I attended the 2019 Net Inclusion conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. As the Government and Community Affairs team (formerly known as the “Community Impact Team”) for Google Fiber, we are responsible for building and investing in partnerships that help narrow the digital divide across the Google Fiber footprint.

The gathering, organized by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), provided a valuable opportunity to listen and learn from digital inclusion leaders on the front lines of improving their respective communities. We also had the chance to see the progress of the broader digital inclusion movement -- a movement that is bigger than any one program, strategy or organization. 

As a Google Fiber city and home to several leading digital inclusion organizations, the City of Charlotte offered many learning opportunities for those interested in starting, improving or expanding digital inclusion programming for residents. Many of these learnings are captured in the recently published Digital Inclusion Start-Up Manual, which was authored by NDIA and sponsored by Google Fiber. The manual includes recommendations for developing a community digital inclusion program, among other resources.     

Throughout the conference, dozens of digital inclusion leaders took part in lightning round sessions featuring innovative programs from across the country. From leveraging technology to expand educational opportunities across the world to the development of low cost digital literacy evaluation tools, our team was inspired by these innovative approaches from community-based practitioners. In fact, it was during the lightning rounds of last year’s conference that we first discovered Libraries Without Borders’ Wash and Learn Initiative. Since then, we have kicked off a partnership with Libraries Without Borders to pilot their program in San Antonio. 

We were also excited to see the announcement of the 2019 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champions. Honorees included Casey Sorensen, CEO of Minnesota-based PCs for People, and Munirih Jester, Digital Inclusion Program Manager for the San Antonio Housing Authority. Munirih began her role as one of the very first NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellows, a program Google Fiber co-founded with NTEN in 2015 and that is now in its fifth cohort. These champions manage programs aimed at reducing the digital divide within their respective communities. 

Many thanks to the NDIA team for organizing another successful event, the Charlotte Google Fiber team for hosting a fun-filled reception, and local digital inclusion leaders for opening your doors to Net Inclusion visitors. 

We know the digital divide remains a persistent challenge — and that none of us can solve it alone. Google Fiber has learned a lot about digital inclusion each year since our launch in 2012; and the conference made clear that the digital inclusion ecosystem continues to grow and get stronger. We continue to learn from leaders across the country working hard to get more of their neighbors connected, and we look forward to chipping away at the divide right alongside them.

Munirih Jester, Digital Inclusion Program Manager at the San Antonio Housing Authority, receives the 2019 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion award from Adrianne Furniss, Executive Director of the Benton Foundation

Posted by Clarissa Ramon, Government and Community Affairs Manager, San Antonio

Saying Goodbye to Louisville

Over the years, we’ve said a lot of hellos. (Or, more accurately, “Hey there’s.”)

Our first was in 2012, with a big hello to Kansas City. Then, in 2014, Austin and Provo. After that came Charlotte, Atlanta, Orange County, Salt Lake City, Raleigh-Durham, Nashville. Most recently, in 2017, it was hello to Huntsville, Louisville and San Antonio.

Today, we’re saying goodbye to one of our Fiber cities. And it ain't easy.

After a lot of analysis, we’ve made the tough decision to leave Louisville, Kentucky. As we told our customers today, we will be turning off the network on April 15 and their next two months of service are on us.

We’ll work with our customers and partners to minimize disruption, and we’re committed to doing right by the community, which welcomed us as we tested methods of delivering high-speed Internet in new and different ways.

This decision has no impact on our operations in any of our other Fiber cities, where we continue to sign up and install new customers every day.

When we launched Fiber service in Louisville in October 2017, we noted at the time that it was the fastest we’ve ever moved from construction announcement to signing up customers. That’s because we were trialing a lot of things in Louisville, including a different type of construction method — namely, placing fiber in much shallower trenches than we’ve done elsewhere.

Innovating means learning, and sometimes, unfortunately, you learn by failing. In Louisville, we’ve encountered challenges that have been disruptive to residents and caused service issues for our customers.

We’re not living up to the high standards we set for ourselves, or the standards we’ve demonstrated in other Fiber cities. We would need to essentially rebuild our entire network in Louisville to provide the great service that Google Fiber is known for, and that's just not the right business decision for us.

The lessons we’ve learned in Louisville have already made us better in our other Google Fiber cities. We’ve refined our micro trenching methods and are seeing good outcomes elsewhere.

For that, and many other reasons, we are deeply grateful to Mayor Greg Fischer, the City of Louisville and its residents for their partnership and spirit of innovation over the past two years.

Introducing the 5th Cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows

“Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?’” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I think about these words often in my work, especially around this time of year. The notion of “doing for others” - particularly those in less advantageous positions - is what drove me to become a community organizer and has stayed with me throughout my career.

Growing up in South Texas, I felt the effect of the digital divide first hand, and the huge impact that something as simple as Internet access can have on a family. It wasn’t until I was almost a senior in high school that my family finally got an Internet connection at home. That connection (on an old computer, over a dial-up modem) is what allowed me to research and apply to colleges and scholarships, and ultimately is the reason I was able to obtain my bachelor’s and master’s degrees — both “firsts” for my family. But it would not be a “last,” as all four of my younger brothers would go on to college, as well as my mother who pursued her degree later in life, taking courses online!

Even now, as a Community Impact Manager at Google Fiber, I ask myself this question every day: what am I doing to help people impacted by the digital divide? The idea of giving people access to opportunity has been a piece of Google Fiber’s mission since the beginning — we believe in the power of the Internet to empower people and their communities.

That’s why today we’re excited to announce the newest cohort of Digital Inclusion Fellows. Four years ago, Google Fiber cofounded this program with NTEN to grow the community of digital literacy leaders, advocates and practitioners across the country. Fellows work with their nonprofit host organizations to provide programming to their communities aimed at building technology skills and growing access.

We can’t wait to see what our 2019 Digital Inclusion Fellows do in each of their cities:
  • Austin, TX - Gabryella Desporte, Latinitas
  • Charlotte, NC - Kyra Gomez, Charlotte Bilingual Preschool
  • Carrboro/Raleigh-Durham, NC - Samuel Maldonado, Orange County Literacy Council
  • Salt Lake City, UT - Krysti Nellermoe, International Rescue Committee
  • San Antonio, TX - Emily Flores, San Antonio Public Library
You can find more information on all the 2019 fellows here

As a former Digital Inclusion Fellow, I can tell you that this program is more critical than ever. In my time as a Fellow here in Texas, I worked with Austin Free-Net to connect Austin’s underserved communities with digital resources and skills. We raised awareness by creating Austin’s first Digital Inclusion Day, we held the city’s first Digital Resource Fair and we strengthened the organization’s volunteer trainer program. But most importantly, I got to build a professional network of amazing people who were working on the same challenges across the country, day in and day out.

We’re incredibly proud not only of the work we’ve done through this program -- we’ve provided nearly 73,000 hours of training for more than 16,000 unique participants across all our Google Fiber markets over the past four  years-- but also of the Fellows and program alumni, many of whom are now leading digital equity work in their communities and nationally.

We look forward to seeing this new cohort of Fellows in action and what good they "do for others" in their communities.

Daniel at work as a Digital Inclusion Fellow

Posted by Daniel Lucio, Austin Community Impact Manager and Digital Inclusion Fellow Alum

Bringing a veteran’s perspective to Google Fiber

Hi everyone! My name is Kristi McNair and I’m new to Google Fiber’s communications team. I’m posting in honor of Veterans Day not only because I’m now a seasoned, two-week veteran of Fiber, but also because I’m an actual veteran of the U.S. Army.

Here’s a snapshot of the exact moment I knew I wanted to join the military:

To clarify: I’m the one on the right

I’m kidding of course. At that time, I’m pretty sure I was only drawn to the military for the super cool outfit I convinced my mom to buy me so I could look just like my older brother in his Marine Corps uniform. Later, growing up on a military base, I witnessed firsthand the admirable traits military service members exhibited — loyalty, respect, dedication to duty, ambition and willingness to help — and I knew I wanted to be a part of that community.

Four years as an Army human resources officer exposed me to a variety of experiences, most of which helped develop vital leadership, communication and problem solving skills for a future career. And I’ve learned that while military jargon doesn’t easily translate in the civilian world, the majority of the skills honed while serving, do.

Fellow Army vet Dan Barrow learned that his leadership experience in the infantry and Special Forces formed a solid foundation for him to transition into leading network deployment operations (aka building the network) for Google Fiber in San Antonio.

In 2014, Dan attended a career fair in Fort Hood, Texas, where he provided a recruiter with his resume that eventually made its way to Teresa Erb, Google Fiber Kansas City’s program management lead, and an Army veteran herself. Dan and Teresa met in person a month later during a veterans event hosted in our Fiber Space in Austin. Impressed with his background, she interviewed him the next day and the rest is history!

Dan and Teresa in Austin’s Fiber Space

Teresa, a graduate of West Point who spent three years on active duty and five years in the reserves as a logistics officer, highlights the special type of work ethic veterans bring to an organization.

“Veterans are used to hard work, have a strong sense of duty and responsibility, work well with everyone, and have an innate ability to just get things done,” Teresa says. “Grit is the word that comes to mind when I think of a military veteran.“

Similar to Dan, Darian Nastvogel found that much of what he learned from eight years as an Air Force civil engineering officer remained crucial as he transitioned into being a program manager for Fiber based in Kansas City.

“The leadership training I got as an officer helped me tremendously in being an effective communicator and problem solver,” he shares. “Whether it’s in a military environment or not, ensuring a person receives the intent of the message is key.”

Darian during his early Air Force days

Darian recently took over leading Google Fiber’s employee resource group FiberVets, which aims to provide fellowship and support to military veterans, service members and their families, while also advocating for the value of the veteran community within Fiber. The group, which currently has about 40 members, also performs outreach to local veteran communities in our Google Fiber cities.

“We’re continuing to build our identity and a sense of community,” Darian says. “The group allows us to connect with one another and discuss how to handle the transition and differences between military and civilian life.”

It was a privilege to serve in the military. I’m also grateful that my career path has now brought me to Google Fiber, joining my many veteran colleagues who bring the lessons they learned — determination, motivation, grit — to work every day on behalf of our customers and our communities.

To all who have served and continue to serve — thank you.

Posted by Kristi McNair, Internal Communications Manager

Connecting to our past and ourselves through reading

We’re excited to have author Varian Johnson (The Parker Inheritance) guest blogging today. We’ll be hosting Mr. Johnson in our Austin Fiber Space on October 20th, and live streaming the event to Fiber Spaces around the country. You can find more information about those events at the links at the bottom of this post. Google Fiber believes in the power of books to connect us to new ideas and places, and we’re honored to help the next generation of readers find new ways to dive into books.

I’m author Varian Johnson. When I first began writing The Parker Inheritance, I thought I was writing a simple, fun puzzle mystery—a novel where a reader could follow along and solve the mystery along with the characters in the book. I am a huge fan of The Westing Game, the award-winning masterpiece by Ellen Raskin, and I especially loved how Raskin put all the clues into the book—right there near the beginning—so I could get in on the action and use my amateur sleuthing skills alongside Turtle, Theo, Chris, Doug and the other characters. However, as I re-read the novel, I realized that The Westing Game was so much more than a simple puzzle mystery. The book was filled with dynamic characters who grew and changed—characters trying to figure out who they were and who they wanted to be. The Westing Game was more than a simple puzzle mystery. Could my book carry that same weight?

That’s when I went back to another novel idea that had been sitting on my hard drive for a while. It was a multi-generational story about a black family and how they were shaped over time—from the 1950s to today. It explored the impacts of racism and how people saw African Americans through an unfair and biased lens. It also explored how people of color in this country were often forced to give up or hide their true selves in order to be successful, safe, and free.

At first glance, the two novel ideas didn’t fit together at all. But similar to a real puzzle, as I began to rotate, shift, and flip the different pieces of each storyline, a new, better image took shape. I was creating a mystery that was fun and exciting, while also creating a drama that asked us to explore this country’s legacy of institutional racism and its effect on young, black people. 

The writing took a lot longer than I’d originally planned, but once all the pieces fell into place, I had the story I was looking for. I’m so proud of The Parker Inheritance—how it encourages us to think and ask questions. But I’m also just as proud of how fun it is—how readers are allowed to lose themselves in mystery. I hope you check out the novel for yourself—whether for the drama or the mystery. And if I’m lucky—maybe you’ll end up liking it for both.

For information on joining us at one of the events in your town, check out the links below:
Posted by Varian Johnson, Author, The Parker Inheritance.

FCC Supports OTMR – Faster and Fairer Rules for Pole Attachments

When we started Google Fiber eight years ago, we knew that building a new fiber network was going to be hard, slow and expensive. But what we didn’t fully appreciate were the obstacles we would face around a key part of the process: gaining timely access to space on utility and telephone poles to place new communications equipment.

One particular challenge revolves around making poles ready for new attachments. This “make ready” work has to be done to make room for new attachers’ equipment. The current system for make ready is done sequentially, and often involves multiple crews visiting the same pole several times over many months. This results in long delays, inflated costs and a frustrated community.

Fortunately, there is a better way. It is called One Touch Make Ready (OTMR), which is a system where a new attacher does much of the make ready work itself, all at one time. OTMR is a common sense policy that will dramatically improve the ability of new broadband providers to enter the market and offer competitive service, reducing delays and lowering costs by allowing the necessary work on utility poles to be done much more efficiently. This also means fewer crews coming through neighborhoods and disrupting traffic, making it safer for both workers and residents.

That’s why we’re so excited by the news that the FCC is poised to pass a rule that would institute a national One Touch Make Ready system, with the goal of significantly increasing the deployment of high-speed broadband across the United States. As the FCC stated, “OTMR speeds and reduces the cost of broadband deployment by allowing the party with the strongest incentive — the new attacher — to prepare the pole quickly to perform all of the work itself, rather than spreading the work across multiple parties.”

We fully support this effort by the FCC and applaud the efforts of Chairman Pai to remove obstacles that reduce choice and competition for broadband consumers. As the FCC says in its order, One Touch Make Ready “will serve the public interest through greater broadband deployment and competitive entry” — we couldn’t agree more.

By John Burchett, Director of Public Policy

Guest Blog: Averie Phimmarah – Daddy Daughter Code-In Expert

The goal of the Google Fiber Blog is to keep you updated on what’s happening and give you a look at how our customers are using Google Fiber.  From time to time, we ask our partners to tell us in their words what connection means to them.  Today, we’re excited to host Averie Phimmarah from Charlotte to tell us more about Digi-Bridge’s Daddy Daughter Code In and her experience there. 

My name is Averie Phimmarah. I’m in the 4th grade and I love my family! I have one older sister and one older brother. The Daddy Daughter Code-In on June 2nd will be the 4th Code-In I’ve been in with Digi-Bridge and Google Fiber. 

I don’t always get to spend a lot of time with my Dad so the Code-Ins are a great way for me and my sister to have him all to ourselves. I love when he helps us work through the Code-In activities. I feel like an engineer working through each challenge. My favorite Code-In activity was taking vinegar, food coloring and baking soda to make bubble bombs! Every Code-In has different activities and the parts that are the most fun are getting to try new things with my Dad’s help and the cotton candy. Even if I don’t get the activity to work like I want it to, it is still fun because I am with my family and friends. 

When I grow up I want to work on electronics and be a construction worker. I go to the Code-Ins because I get to practice those things now. I think all girls should go to the Daddy Daughter Code-In so they can feel what it’s like to be an engineer and problem solver AND you get all the cotton candy you can eat.

If you want to sign up for the June 2nd Daddy Daughter Code-In at our Uptown Charlotte Fiber Space, please sign up here. If you are interested in similar programming, check out CS First, Made with Code, or Be Internet Awesome. 

Posted by Averie Phimmarah, Charlotte, NC, 4th grader

Digital Inclusion Week 2018 Wrap-Up

This year we kicked off Digital Inclusion Week by publishing our 2017 Community Impact Report but that was just the beginning of Google Fiber’s involvement in this national initiative. Across the country, each of our Fiber cities found ways to support digital literacy trainings and connect more people to super fast Internet.

Seeing the rich stories of communities coming together to work on digital equity during Digital Inclusion Week, and the large scale of participants across the country, gives me great optimism about the future of our work and a bit of personal pride. In 2016, when I was working as a Digital Inclusion Fellow -- a program co-founded and supported by Google Fiber and managed by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) -- I worked alongside local and national partners like the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to organize the country’s first Digital Inclusion Day. Now, just a couple of years later, I’m a Community Impact Manager at Google Fiber and the day has grown into a full week of activities across dozens of U.S. cities.

Working with local partners, my fellow Google Fiber Community Impact Managers and I have taken action to mark #DIW2018 across the country:
Check out the photo gallery below of many of these activities. Thank you to all our partners who help us connect our communities!
Cutting the ribbon on our newest Community Connection at Love City in Louisville with Mayor Greg Fischer.
Charlotte, NC Mayor Vi Lyles helps residents at our new Community Connection at The Nest.

Tackling digital inclusion with UpgradeSA in San Antonio.

Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi takes a selfie with seniors after a YouTube tutorial at the Provo Rec Center.

Posted by Daniel Lucio, Community Impact Manager - Austin