AT&T could be high-speed provider for Next Generation Network

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — AT&T Inc. could be the provider of a fiber broadband network for ultrafast Internet services here and elsewhere in North Carolina, company and local officials said.

The company said it is in “advanced discussions” with the North Carolina Next Generation Network to provide transmission speeds of up to one gigabit per second.

The Next Generation effort includes Winston-Salem, Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and such universities as Wake Forest, Duke and UNC Chapel Hill.

Winston-Salem City Manager Lee Garrity said that the selection of AT&T would be on the agenda for city council committee discussions next week.

“It will provide much faster speeds for our business community and medical community as economic development tools,” Garrity said. Garrity said the council would be asked to endorse the selection of AT&T and help smooth the path for the company’s effort to bring the ultrafast Internet service here.

Company officials said that the service would be 10 times faster than the fastest consumer broadband available today in the communities taking part. A speed of one gigabit means that someone could download 25 songs in one second, a television show in three seconds and an online movie in less than 36 seconds, according to AT&T.

Plans include options allowing public hotspots for the new service and connections to business buildings, the company said. The company would also provide high-speed Internet at selected affordable-housing complexes and up to 3,000 homes.

AT&T said that if the governing bodies of the Next Generation communities ratify the agreement, next steps would include meetings in the communities to work out the details of installing the service.

Tracy Futhey, who chairs the steering committee for the Next Generation effort, said in a statement that the participants are encouraged by AT&T’s interest in delivering the service.

“This kind of private sector investment is essential to ensure our regions remain competitive and at the forefront of next-generation applications that are important to all sectors of the economy,” Futhey said.

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