AT&T said this morning that it was in advanced talks with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to light up its 1gigabit per second service in six cities in the state.
AT&T will cross swords in North Carolina with Google’s expansion plans that were announced in February while Time Warner Cable has a large presence in the state.
For now, AT&T is waiting on the NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement, and once that’s done AT&T plans to start building within a few weeks. NCNGN is a regional initiative that is focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation networks across the state.
If the agreement passes, AT&T’s GigaPower service will be available in parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions including Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem.
AT&T is targeting its fiber build out in North Carolina to areas where there’s an expressed demand for the faster speeds, which typically means the more affluent areas, and in places where local policies support broadband network investment.
"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 also includes options to install Wi-Fi hot spots at up to 100 public sites and connect up to 100 business buildings to AT&T’s all-fiber network. The plan also outlines a free 3 Mbps service to 10 affordable housing complexes with up to 3,000 homes. The 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. AT&T U-verse is currently available in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Asheville and surrounding areas.
AT&T said if its plan is approved it will work with business leaders in the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions in regards to how its fiber platform could be used to advance the area’s technology ecosystem.
“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 said it had invested more than $1.6 billion in its North Carolina wireless and wireline networks between 2011 and 2013.
AT&T first launched GigaPower in Austin late last year with a 300 Mbps symmetrical service. Subscribers to that service will automatically be upgraded to the 1 gigabit speed when it becomes available sometime this year, which is also Google Fiber’s time frame.
In Austin, the GigaPower Premiere tier features the 300 Mbps service for $70 a month and waives fees for equipment, service activation and installation. Customers who also select U-verse TV will receive free HBO and HBO Go for 36 months, and HD service for $120 per month with qualifying TV services.
The Standard tier has the same speeds but costs $99 a month. GigaPower customers that also select U-verse TV will get U-verse’s largest storage capacity DVR while GigaPower subscribers that are also AT&T wireless customers will get 50 GB of free cloud storage.
AT&T plans on offering GigaPower in Dallas over the summer and is also looking at another deployment in San Antonio.
With the additions of Google and AT&T, North Carolina is growing fiber roots. Last month RST Fiber said it was working on a 100-gigabit backbone network using carrier-grade IPv6. The 3,100-mile underground network, which is supplemented by Wi-Fi, stretches across RST Fiber’s home state of North Carolina.
Last year Time Warner Cable bought Charlotte-based DukeNet Communications for $600 million in cash. DukeNet was a regional fiber optic network company serving customers in North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as five other states in the Southeast.
Over the past few years, Time Warner Cable has worked diligently to upgrade its network in North Carolina in order to offer more advanced services to its residential and business customers. In 2012, Time Warner Cable opened the doors on its first national data center in Charlotte, which enabled it to consolidate its video sourcing and infrastructure for data, cloud and phone services and its internal enterprise system. Time Warner Cable Business Class serves its gigabit service to numerous schools in the stateacross its fiber optic network.