Southwest Wake News

Western Wake towns eye high-speed Internet agreements

Town leaders approved an agreement with AT&T on Thursday to bring high-speed Internet service to Cary, while Apex and Morrisville hope to soon follow suit.

Cary is part of an alliance known as the N.C. Next Generation Network – which also includes Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh and Winston-Salem and four major universities – that agreed on the terms of the contract earlier this month.

AT&T wants to bring its GigaPower service, which has Internet speeds that are up to 20 times faster than most broadband connections, to small businesses, multifamily residential developments and public “hotspots.”

“To have this available to support small businesses and multifamily housing would be significant in improving the quality of life in Cary,” Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said in an interview Thursday.

On Monday, AT&T announced that it has added Apex and Morrisville to its list of Triangle cities and towns targeted for its high-speed Internet service. Originally, the company announced plans for five local municipalities – Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary and Durham.

Apex leaders welcomed the news, especially since the town was left out of Google’s plans to bring ultrafast Internet to the Triangle.

“I’m delighted we’re included,” said Apex Town Councilman Bill Jensen. “I think it’s highly important for economic development for the town. It’s the future. ... It’s just another tool in our little basket to get other non-residential business here.”

Google announced plans in February to bring Google Fiber service to Cary and Morrisville and some other Triangle municipalities.

The search-engine giant recently asked permission to build “fiber huts” in both towns. Each 1,400-square-foot structure would be capable of providing high-speed Internet to about 20,000 households.

Cary and Morrisville leaders hoped to approve Google’s request at Town Council meetings this week, but the deals were pushed back to May. Google’s legal team needed more time to review the agreements, according to officials in both towns.

Cary hopes to welcome both Internet providers so the competition will drive down prices, Weinbrecht said.

“The potential of economic development by having high-speed Internet is huge,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to pursue it.”

Tim Gauss, Morrisville’s director of development services, said interest from Google and AT&T is “really a feather in our cap.”

“(High-speed Internet) by either is a positive for the town,” Gauss said. “We do have a highly educated population that will use it.”