AT&T to bring 1 Gbps FTTH service to North Carolina

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AT&T (NYSE: T) has made North Carolina the next target for its fiber to the home (FTTH) 1 Gbps service with a particular focus on parts of the Triangle and Piedmont Triad regions.

The telco is in advanced discussions with the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN), a regional initiative focused on stimulating the deployment of next generation networks to North Carolina, to deliver its U-verse GigaPower offering to six communities, including Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem.

AT&T said it is targeting these communities because like Austin, Texas, there is a greater demand for higher speed broadband and local government policies support broadband network investment. In order to move forward with its plan, it needs the governing bodies of these six NCNGN member communities to ratify the agreement.

Besides offering FTTH services, the agreement includes options for Wi-Fi hot spots, free 1 Gbps service at 100 public sites and extending fiber to up to 100 business buildings. In addition, the service provider would offer a free 3 Mbps U-verse broadband service to 10 affordable housing complexes and bring U-verse to Durham.

Jeff Kagan, technology industry analyst, said in an e-mail statement that this development could create a blueprint for how the company approaches other communities about FTTH service.

"So this is a win-win for everyone, AT&T, the end user, companies and the communities," Kagan said. "And this is just the beginning. I expect to see AT&T continue to move into more markets as time goes by. This is the new battlefield and competition will only increase."

Following its initial FTTH rollout in Austin, Randall Stephenson, CEO and chairman of AT&T, told investors last September that he felt encouraged by the cost dynamics of deploying fiber and envisioned replicating that model in other communities.

But what got Stephenson really excited was that communities are willing to be more cooperative with service providers with policies around permitting and rights of way issues.

"Cities and municipalities are saying we'd like you to come in and invest and they are beginning to accommodate and tailor terms and conditions that make it feasible and attractive for us to invest," he said at the time. "That being the case, you'll see us do more cities around the country, and I fully expect that to happen."

In Austin, AT&T's FTTH product has been so much of a hit that it plans to double the number of areas where it will provide the service. 

Interestingly, AT&T's key rival Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG) won't start offering its 1 Gbps service until later this year as it's still working through the necessary permitting processes, while regional cable operator Grande Communications said in February it will start offering its own FTTH service for $65 a month.  

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
AT&T to double size of Austin FTTH roll out, sees strong customer demand
AT&T's Stephenson: We'll equip other markets with FTTH
AT&T, Google will face challenge from Grande's $65 1 Gbps offer in Austin