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June 12, 2014

AT&T Gigabit Service Gets Permits in Winston-Salem



By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer



Ever since Google Fiber first threw the switches and started up its gigabit fiber service in Kansas City, there's been something of a fiber rush hitting the market. AT&T (News - Alert) has been in the thick of it, as have several other firms, and AT&T is about to stake yet another new claim in the rush to roll out more gigabit service. Specifically, a report from Multichannel News shows how city officials in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, have approved an agreement that allows AT&T to bring in its U-Verse with GigaPower service, thus allowing gigabit service into the city.

It took about two months from the time AT&T first announced that it was in “advanced discussions” with an organization known as the North Carolina Next Generation Network (NCNGN) to help bring its fiber-based service to areas of North Carolina known as the Piedmont Triad region and the Triangle region. The NCNGN organization is a coalition of various groups in the region, including six different cities, as well as four universities and an array of local business leaders, geared toward spurring broadband development in the state. Indeed, the NCNGN initiative is paying off in that direction, as AT&T also noted that several other North Carolina areas—Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Carrboro and Cary, at last report—were set to get in service as well, following ratification of the necessary agreements.

The Winston-Salem project, meanwhile, is said to be ready to start “within a few weeks,” and from there, AT&T will offer more information about rollout plans as the event approaches. But there's likely further expansion to come, as AT&T noted that there were at least 21 new metropolitan areas in line to get in on the fiber service, including places like Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, as well as Google (News - Alert) Fiber turf Kansas City.

The importance of high-speed connectivity—and in sufficient quantities to make bandwidth caps largely a moot point—is hard to overestimate. It's a powerful thing that connects us to business and entertainment opportunities the like of which are largely impossible to conceive without such connectivity. From streaming video to videoconferencing to a mobile workforce, where talent can be accessed regardless of where it is geographically in relation to a business, the opportunities for revenue growth posed by such connectivity are legion.

But to get that kind of connectivity in requires investment, and pretty substantial investment at that, so it can't go in just anywhere, at least, not yet. AT&T is clearly taking a measured response here, going after major metropolitan areas in what may be an attempt to get a foothold in before Google Fiber can emerge. What's interesting here is that AT&T is also going after markets in which Google Fiber is already in play, which is somewhat counter-intuitive. But if AT&T can actually get user testimonials that express a preference in AT&T over Google Fiber, that could be a very valuable weapon against Google's largely unchecked expansion.

Only time will tell just what the ultimate outcome of all this is, but there's no denying that AT&T wants a piece of the growing fiber market, but it's going to have to go through quite a bit of competition—and plenty of investment—to get there.




Edited by Alisen Downey
 
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