AT&T executives along with business leaders from Durham gathered Monday morning for the formal launch of ultra-fast Internet service known as GigaPower in the Bull City and Durham County as part of the North Carolina Next Generation Network.

The service will offer customers download speeds up to one gigabit – more than 100 times faster than standard cable Internet access.

Prices begin as low as $70 per month.

Also on Monday, {a href=”blogpost-1″}}AT&T kicked off GigaPower service in Greensboro – the eighth city in the state to now have service in some areas.

AT&T is offering its U-verse entertainment service that offers some 120 channels of TV, movies and news selections in Durham. That service had already been available in Greensboro.

“It’s exciting for Durham to be joining the select group of cities served by ultra-high-speed Internet,” said Mayor Bill Bell. “It is even more exciting to think about what residents and small businesses will be able to do over the AT&T GigaPower network and how that will help us continue to grow and to move forward.”

But AT&T, which has provided only limited services in Durham County in the past, faces embedded competition. Frontier Communications also offers gigabit access in parts of the city and county.

Frontier is the dominant provider of standard phone services in Durham County, having acquired the business previously provided by Verizon.

Plus, Google Fiber is currently deploying its own network that is intended to cover the Triangle.

“Our engineers and technicians have been hard at work for many months designing and building a new 100-percent-fiber network in Durham,” said Venessa Harrison, President of AT&T North Carolina. “We are thrilled that their efforts begin to pay off today for customers and the community as we launch AT&T GigaPower in Durham.”

AT&T also announced its service prices:

  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps starting as low as $70 a month.
  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier + TV: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps and qualifying TV service starting as low as $120 a month.
  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier + TV + Voice: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps with qualifying TV service and Unlimited U-verse Voice starting as low as $150 a month.

Recently, Time Warner Cable began increasing Internet speeds for subscribers across the Triangle, including Durham, but has yet to disclose any plans for a fiber network to the home.

NCNGN reaches six cities

Monday’s launch means that AT&T now offers services in some areas of six cities that are part of the NCNGN initiative. In addition to Durham, the NCNGN now reaches:

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

The NCNGN is a partnership between those municipalities and Duke, UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State as well as Wake Forest universities.

Durham is the latest of North Carolina communities to get the GigaPower service, and the company says Greensboro is next.

Beyond NCNGN cities, AT&T also recently launched service in Charlotte plus Greensboro on Monday.

Other NCNGN efforts

The NCNGN partners also plan to create a community enablement panel to identify new opportunities when broadband becomes available.

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.