When the Town of Carrboro inked its agreement with AT&T for deployment of a fiber network this week, the North Carolina Next Generation Network’s goal of bringing ultrafast Internet service took a huge step toward network workout.

But don’t forget Google Fiber. The tech giant’s own broadband program is still eyeing the Triangle as a market for deployment.

The next big date for the Next Generation Network that will cover much of the Triangle and parts of the Triad is Oct. 1 as NCNGN and partners identify where they want AT&T to provide free net access.

Providing high-speed access to some 100 “community sites” such as government-subsidized housing is a key requirement to the NCNGN consortium’s support of AT&T’s proposed fiber-based network plan.

WRAL TechWire caught up with Elise Kohn, the program director for NCNGN, to talk about where NCNGN stands now that the six governments involved in the project have all signed on.  

“NCNGN members are working to identify potential community sites that could receive free connections from AT&T to help guide the design of the network and the engineering plans,” Kohn explained.

“We will continue to work to secure any additional necessary agreements and help our citizens benefit from ultra-high speed networks.”

The six governments are:

  • Raleigh
  • Durham
  • Cary
  • Winston-Salem
  • Chapel Hill
  • Carrboro

University partners include:

  • Duke
  • UNC-Chapel Hill
  • N.C. State
  • Wake Forest

Carrboro’s agreement means AT&T now has formal approval to begin negotiating access to rights-of-way and planning where to bury or extend fiber.

Kohn says NCNGN is “pleased” with progress to date. 

“NCNGN was founded for just this sort of regional collaboration to help bring ultra-high speed Internet to the Triangle,” she said.

And the project is on schedule. Communities were given 120 days or Oct. 1 to provide information for the public site selection process. And Kohn said that “we believe” that date remains realistic.

However, none of the agreements with AT&T are exclusive – which brings up Google. Google has already negotiated “Fiber Hut” deployment deals with Raleigh and Cary, and the company has said Triangle communities it has approached about possible deployment have met requirements – so far.

Noted Kohn: “Several of the communities are in active discussions with Google Fiber.”