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AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros

Dan Jones

AT&T is ratcheting up the pressure in the Gigabit Internet competition against Google and others in the US, revealing plans to deploy broadband at speeds up to 1 Gbit/s in at least 21 new major metro areas -- assuming the carrier can make the right deal with municipal officials.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said Monday that it plans to begin talks with municipalities in those 21 metro areas to deploy a fiber network that will deliver broadband speeds up to 100 times faster than traditional broadband -- as well as TV service. AT&T says that the plans could see it deploy its "U-verse with GigaPower" service in up to 100 US cities and municipalities.

The list of 21 candidate metropolitan areas includes Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Greensboro, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, San Francisco, and San Jose.

AT&T will "work with local leaders in the proposed markets to discuss ways to accelerate deployment timing and expand the availability of fiber broadband in their communities," the company said in a statement. "The communities with suitable infrastructure and that show the strongest investment cases, based on anticipated demand and the most receptive policies, will influence these future selections and coverage maps within selected areas."

An AT&T spokeswoman tells Light Reading in an email that work on the new service could start in some areas in 2014. "We do expect construction and deployment to begin in some communities this year."

AT&T has already started a slower version of the GigaPower service in Austin, Texas. It expects to hit the 1-Gbit/s target this year. It also expects to bring Gigabit fiber to parts of Dallas and North Carolina.(See AT&T's Austin GigaPower Debuts at 300 Mbit/s and AT&T's Going to Carolina With 1 Gig.)

AT&T says that it has now announced potential plans to deploy Gigabit fiber in 25 metropolitan areas:

Table 1: AT&T's Gigabit Fiber Plans

Metropolitan Area Municipalities
Atlanta Alpharetta, Atlanta, Decatur, Duluth, Lawrenceville, Lithonia, McDonough, Marietta, Newnan, Norcross,  and Woodstock
Augusta Augusta
Austin (Already servicing with fiber)
Charlotte Charlotte, Gastonia, and Huntersville
Chicago Chicago, Des Plaines, Glenview, Lombard, Mount Prospect, Naperville, Park Ridge, Skokie, and Wheaton
Cleveland Akron, Barberton, Bedford, Canton, Cleveland, and Massillon
Dallas Dallas (already announced), Farmer's Branch, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Highland Park, Irving, Mesquite, Plano, Richardson, and University Park
Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale
Fort Worth Arlington, Euless, Fort Worth, and Haltom City
Greensboro Greensboro
Jacksonville Jacksonville and St. Augustine
Houston Galveston, Houston, Katy, Pasadena, Pearland, and Spring
Kansas City Independence, Kansas City, Leawood, Overland Park, and Shawnee
Los Angeles Los Angeles
Miami Hialeah, Hollywood, Homestead, Miami, Opa-Locka and Pompano Beach
Nashville Clarksville, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Nashville, Smyrna and Spring Hill
Oakland Oakland
Orlando Melbourne, Oviedo, Orlando, Palm Coast, Rockledge, and Sanford
Raleigh-Durham Apex, Garner and Morrisville, (Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh were already announced.)
St. Louis and metro area Chesterfield, Edwardsville, Florissant, Granite City, and St. Louis
San Antonio San Antonio
San Diego San Diego
San Francisco San Francisco
San Jose Campbell, Cupertino, Mountain View, and San Jose
Winston-Salem Winston-Salem (already announced)
Source: AT&T Inc.

Google helped to kickstart the fiber trend with its Kansas City rollout in 2012 and was first to promise similar speeds in Austin.

Google Fiber said in February that it is targeting 34 cities in the nine metro markets for possible Gigabit services. The Google unit said it plans to decide where to build its FTTH networks next by the end of the year. (See Google Fiber Shifts Into High Gear and Google Casts a Wide Wireless Net.)

Some of the stated plans for Gigabit deployment from AT&T and Google appear to overlap, notably in Atlanta, Nashville, San Antonio, and North Carolina. Of course, it is possible that some of the stated aims of both companies might not happen if they don't reach agreements with municipalities.

AT&T says the newly revealed Gigabit plans will not affect its expected capex spend in 2014.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/22/2014 | 6:22:41 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
AT&T CFO John Stephens said on its Q1 call that: "We are very optimistic about those markets and believe we are uniquely positioned b/c of our backbone to build off of and provide that high-quality service." (He accidentially said "opportunistic" instead of "optimistic," which I thought was quite amusing.) 
User Rank: Light Beer
4/22/2014 | 2:58:22 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
A lot of municipalities are clueless when it comes to encouraging FTTx. Case in point: Columbia, Mo., which bid for Google Fiber and joined Gig.U, but charges operators $1.91/foot/year to put fiber in municipal rights-of-way. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/22/2014 | 2:00:29 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
I'm with Sarah.  I'll believe it when I see it.  Until then, it sounds like more "Fiber to the Press Release" to me.  Wake me when they've connected some 1 Gb/s subscribers.
User Rank: Light Beer
4/22/2014 | 11:45:00 AM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
It helped Google to do that, got people asking their local govts about the "fiber hoods." Maybe AT&T sees it as another way to nudge the municipalities? 
User Rank: Blogger
4/21/2014 | 10:58:09 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
I was surprised to see AT&T name specific cities and towns. I guess if they say it now and end up not doing it in some of these places because the muncipalities aren't receptive enough they can just throw the municipalities under the bus, but it still isn't going to look good to a current AT&T customer who wants this, sees their city on the list, and then ends up not getting it.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
4/21/2014 | 6:59:06 PM
What's it good for?
I'm excited to see San Diego on the list, and I hope we get the service. I'm not optimistic -- we're located literally a few hundred feet outside of metropolitan San Diego and miles from downtown. 

Still, a boy can dream. 

But whenever I read these stories about gigabit Internet, I wonder what applications will be enabled. Pervasive broadband in its current state permitted online streaming video. You could do video before, but it took hours to download a movie. If you started a download today, you could expect to be able to watch tomorrow. Now of course you can watch instantly. (Most of the time. And you complain when there is a buffering delay.)

So the current state of broadband changed online video from something you could do with difficulty to something you can do easily. 

What will gigabit Internet permit? What can we now do with difficulty that we could do easily if our Internet was a hundred times faster than it is now?
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/21/2014 | 6:25:45 PM
AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
@Sarah, good points.  There is a big difference between talking and implementing!  We will watch and see if they can and do.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/21/2014 | 6:05:17 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
Eh, it all seemed like lip service to me. They plan to begin talks. They could do this. Exploring. Candidates. etc. etc. I'll believe it when I see it.
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/21/2014 | 4:34:53 PM
AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
@DanJonesLRMobile - Google is smart!  If they are inviting others to share the burden, it will be interesting to see what the payoff packages look like.  It truly will advance telecom.
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/21/2014 | 4:24:03 PM
Re: AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros
I suspect its exactly the reaction Google wanted...
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