AT&T goes to the mattresses in North Carolina

21 July 2015 by Steve Blum
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AT&T is putting a move on Google Fiber and Frontier, inside of Frontier’s territory in Durham, North Carolina, according to a story by Lauren Ohnesorge in the Triangle Business Journal (h/t to Fierce Telecom for the pointer). The story quotes a local AT&T executive as saying that the company will soon be offering its Gigapower service, apparently via fiber to the premise technology and on what appears to be a limited basis…

AT&T has the resources to spread its technology more broadly. And it’s soliciting partnerships to make it happen, reaching out to developers to try to get more communities on board with the service, dubbed GigaPower. Already, 15 multi-family communities in the Triangle have signed on for its high-speed service.

According to the story, AT&T’s foray into overbuilding another large, incumbent telephone company is an outgrowth of a deal it did last year with a consortium of higher education customers to build out a middle mile/institutional fiber network in the area. AT&T will own the core fiber infrastructure used to provide this new service, although it’s not saying it will own all of it.

As with most AT&T announcements, details are scarce, but here’s what I think is happening: in keeping with its publicly announced strategy of building fiber to support its mobile network and large commercial customers, and to use that infrastructure to go after low hanging fruit – “high potential” customers – AT&T is going to offer high bandwidth services to business campuses, new residential developments and large apartment/condo complexes. This initiative does not look like a move into a full scale FTTH overbuild.

It’s welcome news. AT&T is both responding to competition – as it did with Google in Austin – and initiating it, albeit at the high end of the market. Landline telephone companies don’t often intrude onto each other’s turf – they’re usually as strict about it as any old time Mafia boss. Until, like those Mafia bosses, they decide it’s worth going to war.