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AT&T racing to get fiber internet to more apartments in Charlotte

AT&T’s Andre Huntley examining a “primary flex point” in the SkyHouse apartment tower, where fiber optic internet cables enter the building.
AT&T’s Andre Huntley examining a “primary flex point” in the SkyHouse apartment tower, where fiber optic internet cables enter the building.

A little more than a year after AT&T debuted its GigaPower fiber internet in Charlotte, the service is now available in more than 450 apartment and condo communities – and the company is pushing to add fiber to more buildings.

Even though super-fast home Internet is relatively recent, companies like AT&T and Google are racing to make it as common as running water and electricity. Fiber internet is increasingly expected as an amenity in apartments, especially among younger renters who expect to be able to stream video in HD, play music, Skype, Facetime and more on multiple devices without interruptions.

“It’s what our consumers are demanding,” said Venessa Harrison, state president of AT&T North Carolina. And AT&T isn’t just trying to install fiber in new buildings. The company is pitching the owners of existing buildings wired with copper to retrofit them and add new fiber lines to each unit.

It can be an attractive proposition for both sides: AT&T will generally cover the costs of retrofitting a building, which gives the company access to hundreds of potential new customers. Building owners get to offer fiber internet as an amenity to prospective renters, and AT&T says the retrofit enhances the property’s value.

And it’s not just old buildings that are getting retrofitted. Some, like The Vue uptown, debuted shortly before fiber was ubiquitous, and are now getting new lines, AT&T officials said.

Google Fiber is also building out its network in Charlotte, though it’s not as widely available as AT&T GigaPower in apartments. According to the company’s apartment locator tool, Google Fiber is available in two apartment buildings, both in Highland Creek. More than 100 other apartment buildings are listed as “Fiber is coming.”

AT&T has rolled out its own apartment locating tool to see which properties have access to GigaPower.

So, the competition for speed is in full swing. How important is fiber internet when you’re deciding where to rent? Would you make a decision to live somewhere – or not – based on that? Let me know in a comment below.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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