AT&T Eyes ‘GigaPower’ Expansion

AT&T said it is in “advanced discussions” with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to deploy its fiber-based U-verse with GigaPower platform to parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions – areas that have also drawn attention from Google Fiber.

U-verse GigaPower, already being deployed in parts of Austin, Texas, is designed to deliver speeds up to 1 Gbps. The NCNGN is a regional initiative aimed at stimulating the deployment of next-gen networks in the state.

According to AT&T, the proposed plan is to weave fiber to 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.” AT&T said the proposal also includes an option to deploy WiFi hotspots at up to 100 public sites and to connect up to 100 business buildings to the all-fiber network. The plan also calls for AT&T to provide a free 3 Mbps Internet service to as many as 3,000 homes in ten “affordable housing complexes.”  

The deal would also pave the way for AT&T to roll out its suite of other U-verse services to residents and businesses in Durham. In North Carolina, AT&T’s U-verse footprint currently covers Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and Asheville.

Google Fiber, which has rolled out 1-Gig services in Kansas City and Provo, Utah, has identified several N.C. areas, including Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, as sites for a proposed 34-market expansion.

AT&T, which claims to have invested more than $1.6 billion in its North Carolina wireless and wireline networks between 2011 and 2013, said the next step is for the governing bodies of the named NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement.

“We’re encouraged by our conversations with NCNGN and remain committed to investing in our communities and delivering the technology people want,” said Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T-North Carolina.

 “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,” added Tracy Futhey, chair of the NCNGN steering committee and VP of information technology at Duke University.

AT&T launched GigaPower last December to parts of Austin, where it’s starting off with symmetrical speeds of 300 Mbps, with plans to ratchet that up to 1 Gbps by mid-2014, about the same time Google Fiber is expected to start connecting homes to its 1-Gig network in the city.

AT&T announced last month that it will deploy its U-verse with GigaPower platform in Dallas sometime this summer. AT&T also has expressed interest in deploying GigaPower to San Antonio, another potential Google Fiber expansion location. 

Separately, AT&T and home builder PulteGroup announced a deal to bring U-verse GigaPower to four currently open for sale single-family communities and five existing communities in the Austin area.