Charlotte’s Quest for Broadband Causes $700,000 in Damage

Officials in Charlotte, N.C., have sent nearly $700,000 in repair bills to crews installing new broadband network lines across the city for AT&T and Google Fiber.

The contractors are digging up areas across Charlotte to install the lines needed for the new service that promises internet speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional lines across the city.

Most of the claims are for damaged water and sewer lines, with some for broken sidewalks and pavement. The city typically makes the repairs, then charges the contractors.

The city is being regularly paid back, with only some delays for insurance and other matters, said Phil Reiger, assistant director of Charlotte’s Department of Transportation.

“We have to endure some years of construction to really convert a 19th-century, copper-driven telecommunications infrastructure to a 21st-century fiber system,” Reiger told The Charlotte Observer.

Contractors for Google Fiber have been charged $493,000, while AT&T has been charged about $195,000 since extensive work on the network began in July 2015, according to records reviewed by the newspaper.

Google Fiber officials said it is a complex project and they are trying to resolve problems as quickly as possible to be good neighbors.

AT&T is trying to minimize impacts of the work, which should bring the new network to more than 100,000 customers in Charlotte, company spokesman Josh Gelinas said.

“If construction-related issues do occur, we work quickly to resolve and restore any impacts from our work,” Gelinas said.