Frequently Asked Questions


Q: What is an ultra-high speed network?

In technical terms, the NCNGN effort seeks plans for 100 mbps wireless up to 1 gigabit or higher wired, symmetric service. Symmetric means same speed for upload and download.

Q: How fast is a gigabit?

Gigabit speed networks give faster access to today’s services, and could make other activities like telecommuting, HD-quality videoconferencing, remote health services and the like, more easily achievable.  By way of example, if you currently have 10MB service, it takes over an hour to download a full movie. With a gigabit connection, it will take less than a minute. (See YouTube Video)

Q: Will the municipalities be providing services?

No. State law prevents municipalities from competing with commercial providers.  NCNGN seeks one or more private-sector providers to design, build, operate, and own the network.

Q: Who will pay for the proposed gigabit network? How much will this cost my municipality?

The selected vendor(s) will be expected to pay all costs associated with building, maintaining, and operating the network, including paying for rent on existing, unused fiber. The municipalities’ and university partners’ only anticipated costs are for existing staff time to oversee the project as it is built.

Q: Will this new service replace my current Internet, cable and phone service? How much will the new services cost?

NCNGN welcomed proposals from existing service providers and from companies not currently operating in our area. The precise details of what services (Internet, phone, television) will be available, how much they will cost, and when and where they will be available won’t be known until later in our process. If the vendor(s) selected do not currently offer services in your area, you will have the choice of switching to the new service provider(s) or sticking with your existing Internet, cable, and phone providers.

Q: What if my municipality is not part of NCNGN? Will this project do anything for me?

If what has happened in other regions is any indication, we could see gigabit service expanding to neighboring communities in response to demand for their services. While we can’t know for certain that this will happen, there is potential that even if your community is not part of the effort today, gigabit services may still be made available to you in the future. The NCNGN organization will continue to work to deploy gigabit networks within the Triangle and Piedmont-Triad regions, and will share what we have learned with others throughout the state.

There may also be indirect benefits. Experience in other communities also suggests that when one provider begins offering significantly higher speed services at attractive prices, other providers increase the speeds and/or lower the prices of their offerings in the same community and in nearby communities to compete.


Q: Why was AT&T’s response selected?

AT&T has the technical expertise, financial strength, and local presence to rapidly deliver broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second to residents and businesses in areas where there is sufficient demand. Additionally, AT&T proposed initiatives to increase access to broadband, such as providing free service with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second to up to 100 community sites across the six communities.

Q: Is AT&T’s proposal the only one being recommended to municipalities for approval?

AT&T’s proposal is the only one being recommended for approval at this time. Our communities remain active in discussions with other vendors.

Q: Does this affect my city’s standing with the Google Fiber project?

We hope that Google and other providers will view this as further evidence of NCNGN members’ willingness to identify ways to streamline processes that could help increase fiber deployments. We can’t speak for Google, but they do not seem to be deterred by the threat of competition. AT&T’s roll-out of U-verse with GigaPower in Austin, TX, has not stopped Google from moving forward with its plans to deploy Google Fiber in Austin. AT&T has also indicated an intention to deploy U-verse with GigaPower to other locations but has not identified specific markets. Meanwhile, many of the 34 cities currently being considered for Google Fiber are in markets where AT&T operates today.

Q: Will Google and AT&T be in competition?

AT&T and Google are not in competition for the right to do business in NCNGN municipalities, but we hope that eventually they will be competing for business from our citizens! Consumers win when providers face meaningful competition from other providers.

Companies offering new services or business models can also benefit from the presence of other companies offering similar services or business models. For example, AT&T and Google (as well as other providers) can both benefit from actions the other takes to identify ways municipalities can streamline processes or increase consumer awareness about the benefits of broadband speeds up to 1 gigabit per second.

Q: What considerations did the communities participating in NCNGN offer AT&T?

In the agreements the NCNGN members agree to attempt to streamline processes around permitting and inspections, ensure nondiscriminatory treatment for broadband providers that offer similar services, and support community education efforts about the benefits of gigabit networks.

Q: What are the next steps after the cities and towns consider AT&T’s proposal?

The cities and towns plan to have a pre-construction conference within the first month of the agreements being signed. AT&T and municipal staff would use those meetings to review and plan for the construction to be undertaken by AT&T. In the meantime, NCNGN members will also start identifying potential community sites that could receive free connections from AT&T, so that AT&T can take that information into account in its network design and engineering plans.

Q: What is the projected timeline for approval by all municipalities?

We anticipate that the governing bodies of each will have an opportunity to consider the proposal in the next several weeks.

Q: When will my city or town consider the proposal?

Please monitor your city or town’s website for updates about when your elected officials will consider the proposal.

Q: Will the university members of NCNGN also need to approve AT&T’s proposal?

All four university members of NCNGN voted in favor of recommending that the governing boards of the municipalities consider AT&T’s proposal, but the actual agreements would be between the municipalities and AT&T. The agreements do contemplate ongoing cooperation and coordination among all NCNGN members including the universities.

Q: If I live in one of the six cities, will I be guaranteed to get broadband?

AT&T’s business model will build to the areas in the municipalities where there is sufficient demand. In other words, where there are likely to be sufficient numbers of customers to recover their installation and operating cost over a period of time.

Q: How much will AT&T’s service cost residents?

If the agreements are approved, AT&T will launch into a more intensive planning and engineering process and plans to make more information available once they get closer to launching the service. Although they can’t commit pricing until that effort is complete, recently announced service by AT&T and Google in other cities are both trending toward a similar price. Due to geography and other factors, our fiber build will differ from those and so the pricing may vary. But we do expect it to be much closer to the rates of Kansas City and Austin, and well below the rates available in the region today.

Q: Where will AT&T’s service be rolled out first?

AT&T will share more about the specifics of its plans once the individual city and town agreements are approved and they get closer to launch.

Q: How soon can I receive the service?

Roll-out schedule and timetable will ultimately be determined by AT&T, but we are hopeful that if the agreements are ratified soon, service will begin in Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem by the end of 2014 and in Durham by mid-2015.

Q: Why is service to Durham delayed?

AT&T currently provides residential communication service to the other five municipalities but does not have any residential service in Durham, therefore their fiber build will take slightly longer.

Q: What happens if some of the cities and towns ratify the proposal and some don’t?

NCNGN’s goal is to present each of our communities with one or more draft agreements that we believe to be on par with or better than agreements other municipalities have entered with providers promising to deliver next generation networks and services. Negotiating as a group gave NCNGN greater leverage to negotiate on behalf of our communities, but it also prevented us from being able to accommodate all city/town-specific concerns of any one member community. Ultimately each municipality will decide for itself whether the resulting uniform master agreement meets the local needs.

Q: Who else responded to the RFP other than AT&T and Time Warner Cable?

Responses and the status of our discussions with other vendors will remain confidential until an agreement is actually signed.

Q: How will the sites that will receive free service be selected?

Each city or town who ratifies the agreement will have 120 days from the date they sign the agreement or until October 1st to nominate sites. Cities and towns will share more details about how sites will be selected after elected officials have had an opportunity to consider the proposal.


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