Frontier (Nasdaq: FTR) is rolling out its top gun – chairman CEO Maggie Wilderotter – on Thursday for its big network expansion and upgrade in Durham on Thursday.

And Capitol Broadcasting is the first customer. 

Look for Frontier to formally announce the extent of its own fiber network plans for the rest of the region as it prepares to take on AT&T (NYSE: T).

And the American Tobacco Campus is the first “ground zero” battlefield for gigabit Internet access.

Sources had told WRAL TechWire that Frontier and American Tobacco, which is owned and operated by Capitol Broadcasting, would announce fiber-speed access availability in the former tobacco factory complex, and Frontier confirmed that in an announcement early Monday. 

Frontier describes Thursday’s news as “a major announcement regarding the company’s network investment that will impact local residents and commercial establishments. An upgrade will enhance the Durham network, bringing higher broadband speeds to customers.”

Frontier confirmed that Wilderotter and Jim Goodmon, CEO of Capitol, will kick off Frontier’s “Gigabit Business” launch in Durham with a “fiber-splicing ceremony” at the tobacco campus.

The event is set for 3 p.m. at the Full Frame Theater at the tobacco complex. 

Frontier will be taking on AT&T when the latter begins deploying the North Carolina Next Generation Network in Durham County and across much of the Triangle.

AT&T won the contract for the NCNGN in a request-for-proposal review process with the NCNGN consortium of six city governments and four universities.

Frontier provides the local phone service in Durham and Durham county.

“Broadband plays an increasingly important role in providing information, education and entertainment. Communities have started asking for higher speeds for gaming and high-tech applications, and Frontier is committed to fulfilling those needs,” said Dennis Bloss, Vice President and General Manager for Frontier in North Carolina, in announcing Wilderotter’s visit.

Last week at WRAL TechWire’s “Fiber Transforms the Triangle” conference, Bloss said Frontier fully plans to fight AT&T for customers in Durham.

“This is our home,” Bloss said.

“As a relatively new entrant into North Carolina, we’re rapidly investing in fiber to the neighborhood,” Bloss explained. “This is positioning us to take the next step and up the speeds to Durham. We’re proud of the work we’ve done with Connect America funds, installing broadband for tens of thousands of households in rural neighborhoods, and soon we will be helping to drive entrepreneurship in Durham and the Triangle when we offer fiber there in the very near future.”

(Capitol Broadcasting is the parent of WRAL TechWire.)