AT&T announced in April that it wants to bring its ultrafast U-Verse GigaPower Internet service to as many as 25 metropolitan areas in the U.S.
In an ongoing race with Google to roll out gigabit networks, the plans show that AT&T is ready to provide Internet connections at speeds that are about 100 times faster than most current broadband services, to allow for high-quality streaming and more connected devices on a single network than current streaming speeds allow.
The build-out brings more competition into services that have long been dominated by cable operators that have proven reluctant to ramp up Internet speeds.
Technology and telecom companies have argued customers want faster speeds to watch streaming videos, something that threatens cable operators’ main offering. Verizon Communications has invested billions of dollars building its all-fiber optic FiOS network that has signed up millions of customers for both broadband and television.
AT&T has been exploring their options for months, said Lori Lee, senior executive vice president of AT&T Home Solutions. The proposed expansion would have U-Verse GigaPower compete with Google in 14 markets where Google plans to bring its rival service, Google Fiber. In addition, U-Verse GigaPower will be the only fiber-optic network available in several other areas.
AT&T’s U-Verse is a fiber-based network, but typically uses copper wire to make the final connections to buildings.
In upgrading to the higher speeds, AT&T is replacing those copper portions with fiber and will only offer the high-speed service where there is demand.
AT&T wants to start building the networks by the end of 2014.
U-Verse GigaPower is already available in Austin, TX, where Google is also planning to launch Fiber. However, U-Verse GigaPower will only offer speeds of 300 megabits per second. AT&T has committed to upgrading this network to a full gigabit-per-second connection and will also expand U-Verse GigaPower to Dallas and the Triangle region of North Carolina.
AT&T wants to then expand U-Verse GigaPower to San Antonio, TX, Kansas City, San Jose, CA, and Atlanta – all cities named by Google in February as potential homes for Google Fiber.
AT&T also has plans for gigabit Internet in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland, Miami and Houston, all major cities in which Google has not yet expressed interest in deploying fiber. Successfully installing networks in these cities could provide AT&T with a competitive advantage in the escalating battle to provide next-generation Internet service.
AT&T doesn’t have landline operations in the Northeast, meaning the only fiber-optic service available for the foreseeable future in that part of the country is Verizon FiOS, which is slower and more expensive than Google Fiber and GigaPower.