Having announced its intention to deliver 1-Gbps fiber to the home (FTTH) in Austin, TX (see “AT&T to launch 1-Gbps FTTH in Austin”), AT&T indicates it hopes to do the same in the Research Triangle and Piedmont areas of North Carolina. The Tier 1 service provider says it is in “advanced discussions” with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to create networks that would help it deliver its U-verse triple-play services, including its 1-Gbps GigaPower Internet access service.
NCNGN is a regional broadband network initiative of the municipalities of Cary, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem and university partners Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Wake Forest University/Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. The group issued an RFP in February 2013 in search of a partner or partners to help build high-speed broadband access networks in the region. AT&T was one of eight respondents to the RFP, and on April 8 the NCNGN Steering Committee approved a resolution that its members seek authorization to enter master network development agreements with AT&T.
The next step in the process is for the governing bodies of the six NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement.
AT&T expressed optimism that the plan will move forward. "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 AT&T proposed to the NCNGN includes options for public Wi-Fi hotspots, free AT&T U-verse with GigaPower at up to 100 public sites, and an all-fiber-optic network connected to up to 100 business buildings. It also outlines a free 3-Mbps AT&T U-verse Internet offer that would be available to 10 affordable housing complexes, up to 3000 homes. The hotspots, public sites, buildings, and apartment complexes covered by this part of the proposal would cross the six communities and be identified by NCNGN. The plan would also bring AT&T U-verse to the residents and businesses of Durham for the first time.
"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."
AT&T is butting heads with Google Fiber in Austin (see “Google Fiber coming to Austin”) and the two may find themselves in competition again in North Carolina. NCNGN member municipalities were among those Google listed as potential expansion areas this past February (see “Google Fiber targets 34 cities and towns for expansion”).
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