Is North Carolina about to become a major battleground in the fight to bring 1Gbps Internet service to fiber-hungry Americans? AT&T on Thursday announced that it’s in “advanced discussions with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to deliver AT&T U-verse with GigaPower” to six cities in North Carolina: Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. For those of you who don’t recall, Google said earlier this year that it’s also considering expanding its Google Fiber network to the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area in North Carolina, which means that lucky residents in those cities could conceivably have a choice between two different ISPs that offer 1Gbps Internet service.
AT&T also says that the plan “includes options for public Wi-Fi hotspots, free AT&T U-verse with GigaPower at up to 100 public sites and an all-fiber network connected to up to 100 business buildings” and that it “also outlines a free 3 Mbps AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet offer available to 10 affordable housing complexes.” So AT&T isn’t just offering to bring 1Gbps fiber to residents in the area, it’s also building a lot of public infrastructure that people who aren’t AT&T subscribers will be able to take advantage of.
AT&T announced late last year that it was bringing 300Mbps service to residents of Austin, Texas, one of the three markets that’s officially been tapped by Google to get its 1Gbps fiber network. AT&T insists that these new initiatives have nothing to do with Google Fiber, of course, and claims that it started negotiations with North Carolina officials before Google announced it was eyeing the state as a potential expansion area.
AT&T’s full press release follows below.
Many in North Carolina Closer to Up to 1 Gigabit Network Speeds Delivered by AT&T
RALEIGH, N.C., April 10, 2014 – The finish line to offer more North Carolinians a fiber broadband network capable of speeds up to 1 gigabit per second is within sight. AT&T* is in advanced discussions with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to deliver AT&T U-verse with GigaPower℠ to parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions. NCNGN is a regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation networks to North Carolina.
The proposed plan outlines potential fiber deployments in the areas of Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem where there is demand for ultra-fast broadband and local policies that support broadband network investment. The next step is for the governing bodies of these six NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement.
The 100-percent fiber network can deliver speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, 10x faster than the fastest consumer broadband available in these communities today, as well as cutting-edge TV and voice services.
“The chance to deploy the fastest consumer Internet speeds the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions have ever seen shows how dedicated its policymakers and university and business leaders are to bringing the latest technology to the state,” said Venessa Harrison, President, AT&T-North Carolina. “We’re encouraged by our conversations with NCNGN and remain committed to investing in our communities and delivering the technology people want.”
The plan includes options for public Wi-Fi hotspots, free AT&T U-verse with GigaPower at up to 100 public sites and an all-fiber network connected to up to 100 business buildings. It also outlines a free 3 Mbps AT&T U-verse High Speed Internet offer available to 10 affordable housing complexes, up to 3,000 homes. These hotspots, public sites, buildings and apartment complexes will be across the six communities and identified by NCNGN. The plan would also bring AT&T U-verse to the residents and businesses of Durham for the first time.
If the proposed plan is approved, AT&T will work with leaders throughout the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions to discuss how a fiber platform can advance the area’s technology ecosystem. These talks would also outline where these innovative services can have greater reach throughout the six communities.
“All of the participants in the NCNGN project are encouraged by AT&T’s interest to deliver ultra-fast bandwidth to the Research Triangle and Piedmont regions,” said Tracy Futhey, Chair of the NCNGN Steering Committee and Vice President of Information Technology at Duke University. “This kind of private sector investment is essential to ensure our regions remain competitive and at the forefront of next-generation applications that are important to all sectors of the economy.”
This potential investment is part of AT&T’s ongoing efforts to expand its fiber network to tens of thousands of North Carolina residents and businesses over the next two years. The company invested more than $1.6 billion in its North Carolina wireless and wireline networks between 2011 and 2013.
Other AT&T initiatives in 2014 include:
- Enhance and expand its 4G LTE wireless network, the most reliable network in the nation.*** AT&T 4G LTE wireless service is available in 24 North Carolina markets.
- Expand our U-verse footprint to more areas of North Carolina. U-verse is currently available in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Asheville and surrounding areas.
AT&T launched AT&T U-verse with GigaPower to tens of thousands of households in Austin and surrounding communities in December and in January announced it will expand the fiber network to double the households in the Austin area this year as a result of high demand that has exceeded expectations. AT&T also plans to expand to other markets, like parts of Dallas, in 2014 and beyond.
* AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.
** Internet speed claims represent maximum Service Capability. Actual customer speeds may vary and are not guaranteed. Actual speeds vary based on internet factors including site traffic, content provider server capacity, network management activities, device capabilities and use of other U-verse services.
*** Reliability claim based on data transfer completion rates on nationwide 4G LTE networks. LTE is a trademark of ETSI. 4G LTE not available everywhere.