AT&T, the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) and four prestigious North Carolina colleges and universities plan to create a community enablement panel to identify new opportunities when broadband becomes available. The move follows AT&T’s launch of U-verse with its GigaPower high speed Internet service in the region, which debuts in Durham on Monday (July 20).

The panel’s working groups will explore initiatives and opportunities in areas such as software defined networking, data analytics and the development of applications across several areas, including health and wellness, education, smart homes, municipal services, public safety, transportation, advanced manufacturing, arts and culture, smart grids and medicine.

The panel includes delegates from AT&T, NCNGN, Duke University, NC State University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wake Forest University and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. They will collaborate on how to best leverage high-speed Internet and other technologies to drive economic development, workforce training, digital inclusion and technology innovation.

Connecting residents, tech leaders, students

“We’re in the very early stages of planning, but this is an exciting next step in the relationship between the NCNGN project and AT&T to invest in the future of this region and deliver next generation applications that will keep us as the forefront of technology trends,” said Tracy Futhey, chair of the NCNGN Steering Committee and vice president of Information Technology at Duke University in a statement. “This kind of private sector collaboration opens up new opportunities for our universities, students, communities, and residents in several areas, including advanced learning, application development, and job training.”

“This is about connecting North Carolinians – residents, technology leaders, and students – with new opportunities in ways we haven’t done before,” said Venessa Harrison, AT&T North Carolina state president in the announcement.

“Through collaboration, research and a shared desire to introduce exciting technologies in the regions, the potential is endless. We can’t wait to get moving.”

The community enablement panel is tied to AT&T’s previous agreement to deploy a 100 percent fiber network in parts of six North Carolina communities. This includes areas where service is live in Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, and where plans have been announced to launch service in Durham on July 20. As part of the agreement with the NCNGN, Durham residents and small businesses will receive AT&T U-verse Internet connectivity and U-verse TV and Voice services for the first time.