AT&T announced plans for their 1 Gig FTTH network in Austin, which many analysts (myself included) believe is a competitive response to Google’s plan to do the same in the tech hub city. U-verse with GigaPower will initially offer a symmetrical 300 Mbps broadband tier in December 2013, but will eventually offer 1 Gig by sometime in mid-2014. This timing will beat Google Fiber to market.
“With our all-fiber U-verse services, we are building the foundation for a new wave of innovation for Austin’s consumers, businesses, and civic and educational institutions. It’s about engaging the full community and empowering the city and its people with all that technology can offer us. This investment will help attract new business and new jobs to Austin,” said Dave Nichols, President – AT&T Texas in a press release.
AT&T is borrowing some of Google’s tactics for this FTTH build, including asking residents to request U-verse GigaPower for their respective neighborhoods. AT&T says they will initially reach tens of thousands of subscribers, with more to come as requested. “Deployment has already begun in parts of the city, and future expansion will, in part, be influenced by consumers and business owners who vote at www.att.com/austinfiber to help us identify high customer demand,” an AT&T spokesperson tells Telecompetitor in an emailed statement.
AT&T also wanted some regulatory concessions from Austin, inline with what Google was offered to bring Google Fiber to the city. They are being a little coy when asked if those concessions were offered. “The city has been progressive in our ongoing conversations and we continue to work with them on our plans to deploy fiber more broadly to Austin residents,” said the spokesperson.
Customers who initially sign up for the 300 Mbps service will automatically be bumped to the 1 Gbps service when it becomes available. AT&T didn’t reveal any pricing, but one would assume they intend to be competitive with Google’s $70 pricing benchmark. “We haven’t announced specific plans or pricing, but we do intend to introduce special offers and service bundles that provide our customers with added value,” said the spokesperson.
Like Google Fiber, U-verse GigaPower will be a full triple play offer, utilizing AT&T’s IPTV service, U-verse TV. In a differentiation nod, AT&T will offer GigaPower subscribers who are also AT&T Wireless subscribers a free 50 GB cloud storage service.
Google Fiber’s impact on the ISP marketplace is now undeniable. One of their goals has always been to raise the bar for broadband in as many places as possible, spearheading a next generation broadband movement. Besides AT&T, other service providers are now touting 1 Gig plans, including CenturyLink. Even wireless provider C Spire wants in on the 1 Gig FTTH movement. Additionally, Comcast recently unveiled a 500 Mbps tier and other existing 1 Gig providers, including EPB, have adjusted their pricing to be more in line with the Google Fiber benchmark.
The first generation of broadband saw a 50x to 100x improvement over dial-up Internet. Google wants to lead the charge for this next generational leap, which also sees a 50x to 100x improvement over today’s broadband. This next generation broadband is much more conducive to watching more YouTube videos and consuming more cloud applications, courtesy of Google. They stand to gain as more and more of the ISP industry upgrades to keep pace.
AT&T didn’t reveal many details, but an executive or two has been quoted in other publications, suggesting that GigaPower will be coming to other AT&T markets in the future. Sounds like “mission accomplished” Google.