An event discussing the impact of gigabit Internet access on the Triangle sponsored by AT&T is still a “go” for Thursday, but whether the communications giant will proceed with the North Carolina Next Generation Network and other fiber projects in the Triangle is not clear.
No one involved will comment specifically.
Venessa Harrison, president of AT&T for North Carolina, is participating in Thursday’s event, the company confirmed late Wednesday afternoon. However, she will not talk about AT&T’s network plans, a spokesperson said.
AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson announced a “pause” in fiber-optic network projects known as “GigaPower” at a conference in New York on Wednesday. He cited President Obama’s call for regulation of Internet Service Providers by the FCC, reigniting the “net neutrality” debate.
“Let[‘s] pause, let[‘s] make sure that we have line of sight and understanding is to what this process looks like,” Stephenson said, according to a transcript of his remarks from website SeekingAlpha.
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“Where these rules can conceivably land? What those rules would look like and then let’s reevaluate? But we are in a pause moment right now on those kinds of investments.”
So what does Stephenson’s announcement mean for North Carolina?
“Over the past year we’ve made speeds up to 1 [gigabit per second] available through U-verse with AT&T GigaPower to consumers and small businesses in Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding communities,” replied AT&T spokesperson Josh Gelinas.
“Regarding additional investment, please reference what AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said this morning at the Wells Fargo Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.”
Based on what Gelinas and Stephenson said, GigaPower for RTP is on hold.
But AT&T won a contract to build the NCNGN. What’s AT&T’s decision mean? AT&T has not disclosed any initial deployments.
WRAL TechWire also contacted Elise Kohn, program director for NCNGN.
She would not comment about AT&T’s decision.
Clarity to Come?
Little more clarity is expected Thursday when the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce puts on its “Faster, Bigger, Better Business in the Triangle” event.
AT&T is the sponsor, and AT&T executives are expected to participate, according to Chamber CEO Harvey Schmitt.
The event will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton at 4810 Page Creek Lane near RDU International Airport.
Guest speaker is Larry Downes, co-author of “Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation” and “Unleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominance.”
Boost for Google Fiber?
A delay by AT&T just could be good news for Google Fiber, which is deploying in Kansas City and is expected to announce in coming weeks its next locations for launch.
Google Fiber has stated the Triangle is on its prospective list.
The Chamber’s Schmitt says he hadn’t heard anything from Google recently but added: “[W]e are still in the mix is all I know.”