Broadband networks already in construction, planning for Triangle – February 20, 2014

The push for stronger fiber networks is happening already in the Triangle.

In Holly Springs, a crew is boring a small tunnel for a new town-funded fiber-optic network. Across the region, municipalities and universities are laying the groundwork for a regional high-speed network.

While these efforts haven’t brought new competition to the area’s high-speed Internet market, these government-backed efforts show that any new Internet provider likely will find friendly hosts in North Carolina.

The N.C. Next Generation Network is an alliance of municipalities and schools that includes Raleigh, Cary, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Durham, Winston Salem, UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, N.C. State University and Wake Forest University.

The group is jointly negotiating with eight private companies that are interested in bringing high-speed network service to the area. Together, the members are offering access to their existing cables, conduits and data centers, which could become part of a new cable network.

One of the interested companies is Time Warner Cable, but the rest will remain anonymous until negotiations are finished, said Bill Stice, technology director for Cary and vice chairman of the NCNGN steering committee.

Beyond an offering of assets, the effort is an invitation to companies. The process is meant to show the players’ willingness to work with each other and with potential service providers, and to examine the needs of potential contractors.

“By kind of cooperating and engaging in this effort, it is a more efficient process for all involved,” said Elise Kohn, program director for NCNGN.