Bloomberg News

AT&T Challenges Google in North Carolina With Fast Web Plans (2)

April 10, 2014

AT&T Inc. (T:US) plans to bring its fastest Internet service to six cities in North Carolina, vying with Google Inc. and Time Warner Cable Inc. for broadband customers in the state.

The U-verse GigaPower fiber-optic service will be offered in parts of Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, AT&T said today in a statement. In addition to an unspecified number of homes, AT&T says it will connect as many as 100 businesses and 100 public sites. Work will start after local approvals are obtained, and as part of the proposal, AT&T will provide a free, slower-speed service to as many as 3,000 under-served homes.

AT&T has been racing to bring fiber services to markets where competitive threats loom. A year ago, the largest U.S. phone company announced plans to offer faster Internet service in Austin, Texas, where Google also is expanding. With today’s announcement, Dallas-based AT&T joins Google and Time Warner Cable in targeting the Raleigh and Durham communities.

“We are excited to bring some of the fastest Internet to North Carolina,” said Lori Lee, head of AT&T’s U-verse unit. “We had a great experience in Austin, it has exceeded our expectations.”

Called U-verse with GigaPower, the service eventually will reach speeds of 1 gigabit -- about 100 times faster than standard Web access, with the ability to download a high-definition movie in half a minute, AT&T said.

Early Showcase

AT&T, which already sells the U-verse service in the state, said it’s working with a regional group called North Carolina Next Generation Network to build support for the project, which requires approval from each of the communities. The company didn’t announce prices.

Google Fiber began as a showcase for what people can do with dramatically faster Internet speeds. The project also was meant to simulate competition among broadband providers.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, started its service in Kansas City, Missouri, in 2012. It has expanded to Provo, Utah, and Austin, and announced plans to add Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and other markets. Time Warner Cable said a year ago it would offer high-speed service to cities in North Carolina.

In Provo, Google offers Gigabit Internet service for $70 a month, plus a $30 construction fee. A combined Internet and TV service costs $120 a month, plus the construction fee and local taxes, according to Google’s website.

In Austin, AT&T’s GigaPower service ranges from $70 a month to $150 when phone and TV are included, according to the company’s website.

Local action on AT&T’s proposals in each city could be lined up in coming weeks, Lee said. Once the municipalities are ready to approve, the company will start planning and working with them and eventually lay fiber, Lee said.

AT&T rose (T:US) 0.6 percent to $35.12 at the close in New York. The stock is little changed this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Moritz in New York at smoritz6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at srabil@bloomberg.net Rob Golum, Stephen West


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