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AT&T Turns Up Gig Heat in 21 New Metros

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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