AT&T is embarking on an interesting expansion strategy by launching AT&T Gfast based broadband service to MDUs outside of their traditional service territory. The latest example is Boston, where AT&T announced the availability of Gfast delivered broadband services to select apartment complexes.
AT&T Gfast can deliver up to 500 Mbps broadband, using existing building wiring, coax wiring in this case. AT&T is also bundling satellite-based Directv service, where available. Boston is home turf for both Verizon and Comcast.
“While other Internet companies are leaving the city, we’re finding new ways to connect Bostonians,” said Ed Balcerzak, senior vice president, AT&T Connected Communities, in a press release. “We’re committed to providing connectivity to MDU residents in Boston. And we’ll do it through Gfast and millimeter wave.”
That last point is also interesting – millimeter wave. It suggests AT&T will expand these competitive forays outside of their traditional territory using 5G fixed wireless. Balcerzak also seems to be taking a swipe at Google Fiber, who’s Webpass subsidiary recently announced they are exiting the Boston market.
Changing Competitive Dynamics
Boston is the latest example of a very interesting competitive dynamic. AT&T announced an expansion strategy in 2017, bringing broadband competition outside of their normal footprint to 8 markets outside of their existing 21-state footprint. Other markets include Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and New York City.
That puts AT&T in direct competition with other telcos like Verizon and CenturyLink for wired broadband service. A relatively new competitive phenomenon in the U.S. market. Telcos have traditionally stayed out of each other’s territories, not overbuilding each other for wired broadband. My, how times have changed.
Gfast is a great enabler of this competitive dynamic. It allows carriers like AT&T to come into a market and cherry pick apartment, condo, and other MDU opportunities. By leveraging existing wiring in these facilities, Gfast allows carriers to offer a robust broadband offer, at lower cost than having to install their own wiring.
Verizon will soon too enter this changing competitive environment, through 5G fixed wireless. Later this year, starting in Sacramento, they’ll begin competing with other telcos and cablecos with a 5G fixed wireless broadband product, targeting homes with what they claim will be a gigabit-capable offering. Verizon however, will not be headed down the Gfast path. It’s a technology that they are currently not interested in.