The Town of Carrboro has officially joined five municipal partners and four universities in the Master Network Development Agreement with AT&T.
The vote was 5-to-2 in favor of the plan at Tuesday night’s Board of Aldermen meeting, with Alderpersons Sammy Slade and Jacquelyn Gist voting no.
Chapel Hill, Cary, Durham, Raleigh, and Winston-Salem were already on board with AT&T to bring “next-generation” fiber-based communication networks to the town.
UNC-Chapel Hill was among the four major universities that had signed on as well.
The Carrboro Board of Aldermen held out for assurances that the plan for networks with the capability of one-Gigabit-per-second would satisfy the Town of Carrboro’s goal of helping to bridge the digital divide for low-income residents.
Under the agreement, AT&T will provide the service to community centers, including churches, as well as public housing developments.
Slade said he did not support the agreement because of AT&T’s history of using market devices to stifle competition.
“They’re currently fighting, at the federal level, the FCC against net neutrality,” said Slade. “And so this is AT&T. They’re not the good guys that they’d like to claim — that they are offering all these things in this contract is really a PR thing.”
Gist objected to AT&T’s request to streamline the application and inspection processes. She said she wondered whose application processes with the town would be slowed down in order to accommodate AT&T.
Kristen Smith, vice president for advocacy and engagement at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce spoke in favor of the agreement. She said it will bring “super high-speed internet access and incredible pricing to our community.”