Thursday’s agreement with the City of Durham for building of an ultrafast Internet network brings AT&T (NYSE: T) more than another step closer to deployment of the North Carolina Next Generation network.

The move also takes the communication giant into what for it largely new market – and the agreement is non-exclusive as a Bull City executive confirmed. So AT&T could still face competition – from Google Fiber or other competitors.

In a Q&A with AT&T Corporate Spokesperson Josh Gelinas, who is based in Charlotte, WRAL TechWire sought more details about the company’s thinking about the move. The NCNGN will cover most of the Triangle and parts of the Triad, as we have reported in great detail. The Q&A also covers various aspects of the announced agreement with Durham and Winston-Salem. Raleigh, Cary, Chapel Hill and Carrboro are also moving toward a formal endorsement. Each city is part of the NCNGN along with Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State and Wake Forest universities. 

Our Q&A:

AT&T is new to Durham in most respects other than some business and 4G LTE wireless coverage. Durham had long been a market serviced by Verizon, which sold its infrastructure there to Frontier Communications.

  • Since AT&T is coming to Durham for the first time (on land), will the expenses not be higher? Why enter that market, and were you able to do that since this is for a non-standard phone service?

Deployment of U-verse with GigaPower to Durham represents the first consumer offering of wireline services and the first large-scale offering to business customers there.

However, AT&T does provide some data services to businesses located in the Research Triangle Park today.

We’re entering the market now because of strong demand.

The increasing popularity of applications like video and gaming, and the multiple devices connected to your home Internet at one time, continue to drive the need for speed.

Our robust U-verse portfolio of products and services, now including those delivered by U-verse with GigaPower, is about the entire package – speed, mobility and value.

We want our customers to have the broadest possible choices of services/speeds.

  • Is the agreement with other cities/towns the same?

For the most part, they are the same, although each city has been given the opportunity to insert city specific modifications which have been included into the final city-specific agreement.

For example, Winston-Salem requires an acknowledgement of compliance with its local safety and ethical rules and so provisions were added (and agreed) to reflect those commitments.

  • It appears the agreement is non-exclusive other than local Wi-Fi access in public areas and Durham can still negotiate with another provider, correct?


  • Google has stipulated quick government cooperation (zoning, right of way access) It appears AT&T has sought similar cooperation. Correct? Why?

Yes. Consumers and small businesses win when government officials support policies that get rid of unnecessary regulation, lower costs and speed up network deployment.

Clearing this path for technology growth brings more investment in our advanced network and can serve as a catalyst for new employment and economic growth.

  • Has AT&T put a dollar amount on what the investment would be in each market?

This information is not available.

  • Can AT&T wireless infrastructure be used to help the creation of the fiber network and Wi-Fi connections?

We will not be using our wireless network with this project.