AT&T said it is on track to bring high-speed internet by the end of the year to 660,000 homes and small businesses for which the company received rural broadband funding through the Connect America Fund (CAF). “Much” of this connectivity will be through AT&T fixed wireless service, which is now available in nearly 1,000 counties in 18 states, according to an AT&T blog post today.
Those 18 states were initially launched early last year and include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
AT&T Fixed Wireless Plans
AT&T accepted CAF funding in 2015 in exchange for a commitment to bring internet service supporting speeds of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to 1.1 million rural areas lacking connectivity at that speed. The company has six years to complete that deployment, with specific interim goals it must meet between now and then.
The AT&T fixed wireless service launched last year supports 10/1 Mbps speeds at a cost of $60 a month, with a monthly cap of 170 gigabytes. Additional data costs $10 per 50 GB up to a maximum of $200 per month, the company noted in today’s blog post.
Notably, AT&T’s 10/1 Mbps fixed wireless service provides slower performance than many other fixed wireless initiatives underway in rural markets across the U.S. The recent FCC CAF-II auction funds rural broadband buildouts, where 99% of the rural coverage will feature speeds of 25 Mbps downstream or more, with 16 WISP bids winning $750 million for fixed wireless.
Perhaps that’s why the AT&T blog post also highlights other technologies the company is exploring for possible use in rural areas.
Citing links to other blog posts and press releases, the company noted that it plans to deploy fixed wireless in the CBRS band in rural and suburban areas and noted that it is moving closer toward deploying AirGig, a broadband technology that AT&T developed internally and which leverages existing powerline network infrastructure to support fixed wireless service at gigabit speeds.
Hopefully, AT&T is exploring whether it will be able to re-use some of the fixed wireless infrastructure from its CAF deployments to support some of the future technologies.