Raleigh approves AT&T deal for ultra-high-speed Internet service

The Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved an agreement with AT&T that allows the company to begin rolling out ultra-high-speed Internet service in Raleigh and other North Carolina communities.

The deal also must be approved by elected officials in Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham and Winston-Salem – all of which are cities where AT&T believes there is enough customer demand and local government support to warrant making the costly fiber installations that are necessary for such a network.

Gail Roper, Raleigh’s chief information officer, said the city will work to help AT&T through the permitting process for installing the network of fiber-optic cables. “This is really a construction project in many ways, and we’ll have to make sure we can get through our internal processes,” she told the city council.

AT&T’s gigabit service, called GigaPower, provides customers download and upload speeds of up to 1 gigabit. The service is currently available in only one market: Austin, Texas.

City leaders had strong praise for the agreement. “This a big step forward,” Councilman Bonner Gaylord said. “It’s wonky, but exciting.”

The agreement was first negotiated with members of the N.C. Next Generation Network. The network, which also includes UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, N.C. State University and Wake Forest University, has been negotiating separately with eight private companies to build a gigabit network, in part by using existing fiber-optic lines, underground conduits and data centers.

Staff writer Colin Campbell