AT&T proposal for high-speed fiber network takes step forward

Apr. 11, 2014 @ 01:36 PM

From the pack of providers in the running to possibly bring a high-speed, fiber Internet network to the Triangle, AT&T Inc. has taken a step forward.

The company announced Thursday that its proposal for an ultra-high speed network has been sent on by a group of Triangle universities and towns that asked for proposals -- called the North Carolina Next Generation Network or NCNGN -- to the municipalities in the group for closer scrutiny.

“So far, AT&T is the first provider that we have reached an agreement with that is sufficiently complete and attractive to our communities that we would take forward or ask the municipalities to consider,” said Tracy Futhey, the chair of the steering committee for NCNGN and the vice president for information technology at Duke University.

Futhey said the group has been negotiating with AT&T for months. Now, she said they’ve come to a services agreement with the company.

They have sent the AT&T proposal on to each of cities and towns – Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem – but are still in negotiations with other potential providers.

“We’re still in the process sand still negotiating actively with others,” Futhey said.

From here, the governing bodies for each city or town will need to sign off on the agreement.

In general, Futhey said providers like AT&T are looking for the municipalities to make it as “cost-effective as possible” for them to bring fiber to those cities. That would mean streamlining the process around permitting and inspections.
Futhey said AT&T was “very motivated” to get an agreement.

“They understood what we were trying to do, they understood why it was important to have these kinds of resources, they recognized that this region – the Research Triangle and also the Piedmont region with Winston-Salem in this mix – is an ideal test bed and location for this,” she said.

In a news release, AT&T said the proposal is for the company to deliver AT&T U-verse with GigaPower to parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad.

It also would include potential fiber build-outs in the areas of Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem where there is demand and supportive local policies.

It also includes options for public wireless Internet 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 it also outlines a free three-megabit-per-second AT&T U-verse high speed Internet offer to 10 affordable housing complexes.

It would bring AT&T U-verse to the residents and businesses of Durham for the first time.

NCNGN is a group of six municipalities and four universities that want to see a private company build out ultra-high speed Internet network.

Of the companies that submitted proposals, Time Warner Cable announced that it had submitted a formal bid.

And in February, Google Inc. announced that seven cities in the Triangle, including Durham and Chapel Hill, are in the running for a possible new fiber-optic network by the company.