Better, Faster, Stronger


 Dear Ace: I had no idea Google had a dietary branch, but if what I’m hearing around town is correct, they’ve come up with something called “Google Fiber,” and the city and county want to bring it to Charlottesville! What’s up with that? And will it obstruct my ability to purchase digestion-assisting whole grains, flax seed, green beans and avocados locally?—Regular-roughage-recipient-in-Charlottesville

If you ask Ace, some of these Silicon Valley IT/tech corporations could just as easily strike it rich in culinary enterprises. Think of the possibilities: the Microsoft Taco, the Apple iPad Thai. As a matter of fact, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, CA is renowned for its gourmet, organic cafeteria cuisine, ingredients of which are sourced within 150 miles of the campus. So maybe a Google Foods along Rte. 29 wouldn’t be such a bad thing. It might even take some of the edge off of our collective longing for a Wegmans.

What Google has in mind with its forthcoming Fiber project, however, is more in line with the regular operations of its evil/evil-opposing empire: the construction of an experimental, state-of-the-art broadband Internet network in at least one U.S. community of Google’s choice, which will deliver speeds “more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second,” according to the Charlottesville city website. Google’s blog claims that these speeds would allow users to download “a high-definition, full-length feature film in less than five minutes.”

Google is selecting its guinea pig via a contest-style selection process, in which Charlottesville faces competition from cities like Baltimore, Ann Arbor, Pittsburgh and many others. The winning candidate(s) will be announced later this year, to which Google will offer Fiber service “at a competitive price” to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people. It would also pay for the installation—estimated between $60 million and $1.6 billion—with no infrastructure costs to the chosen community. 

In other words, relax. In the event that Charlottesville’s bid is accepted, Google Fiber will have exactly zero effect on your future bran purchases. Digitally speaking, it may even relieve your congestive woes.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 21 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to