City News

Office of the Mayor - April 10, 2014

City Officials Praise AT&T Fiber Network Proposal

AT&T’s proposal to build an all-fiber, ultra-high-speed broadband network in Winston-Salem has far-reaching implications for the city’s businesses, institutions and residents, and will bolster the city’s efforts to attract new employers, Mayor Allen Joines said.

“This is a notable moment in Winston-Salem’s transition to a technology-based community,” Joines said. “It will greatly assist our efforts to recruit and retain not only knowledge-based companies, but any company that depends on reliable, high-speed internet – which in this day and age means almost any company.”

AT&T announced Thursday a proposal to build an all-fiber network with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second in six cities and towns in North Carolina, including Winston-Salem. Called U-verse with GigaPower, the service would be available throughout the city and serve residents as well as businesses. AT&T’s proposal must be ratified by the City Council. The council’s Finance Committee is scheduled to review the proposal on April 15.

Although there is no cost to the city, AT&T is looking for assurances that the city will provide timely responses to its request for permits and inspections required to build the network, said Dennis Newman, the city’s chief information officer.

“Access to gigabit speeds at affordable prices will create innovation in ways we are only beginning to understand,” Newman said. “I am excited for our residents, our businesses, and for the opportunities it will bring for the city to better serve our citizens.”

AT&T’s announcement is the culmination of a collaboration, called the North Carolina Next Generation Network, between six municipalities and four leading research universities, include Wake Forest University, Newman said. This collaboration provided the opportunity for the city and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to influence AT&T’s decision to deploy their advanced network in our community.

AT&T’s proposal includes free U-verse with GigaPower at up to 100 public sites and all-fiber network deployment at up to 100 business buildings, to be shared among the participating North Carolina cities. The details of how these sites will be allocated among the cities have yet to be finalized, Newman said, but population will play a role.

AT&T is currently building its first U-verse with GigaPower fiber-to-the-home network in Austin, Texas, and announced last month that it would build a network in Dallas. If AT&T’s proposal is ratified by all participating N.C. municipalities, Austin and Dallas would be joined by Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary and Carrboro in offering fiber-to-the-home service through AT&T. Google is building FTTH networks in Kansas City, Mo.; Austin, Texas; and Provo, Utah. 

Newman said, “People may ask, ‘Why do I need this? I have all the speed I need at 10 megabits per second in my home.’ AT&T and others recognize that this is already beginning to change. Think about streaming movies, online video games, telehealth, and home security… all at once.” 

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