Rushing to fill the void left by Google Fiber's slowdown of FTTH newbuilds, AT&T plans to extend its fiber-fed gigabit service to five more metros by the end of February, boosting its total coverage to 51 markets throughout the US.
AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced Monday morning that it will expand the reach of its AT&T Fiber service to five midsized metro areas -- Columbia, S.C., Jackson, Miss., Knoxville, Tenn., Milwaukee, Wis. and Shreveport, La. That follows earlier 1-Gig launches over all-fiber lines in such major cities as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, San Diego and San Francisco, as well as many other midsized and smaller markets. (See AT&T Fiber Launches in 20 Major Metros.)
With AT&T Fiber operating currently in 46 markets, the nation's largest telco says its gigabit services now passes nearly 4 million homes and businesses across the US, including more than 650,000 apartments and condo units. By the middle of 2019, the company plans to reach at least 12.5 million customers locations across 67 metro areas, exceeding the commitment it made to the US government when its purchase of DirecTV was approved in July 2015.
As is its wont, AT&T declined to say just how many of those nearly 4 million customer locations are actually subscribing to its fiber-fed gigabit service. But it did say that "a higher percentage of customers in metros where we offer our 100% fiber network subscribe to internet service from AT&T, compared to metros where we do not yet offer this network." It also said that "about half of our new internet customers" in those areas subscribe to 100Mbit/s service or higher, and 30% of those (or 15% overall) subscribe to 1-Gig service.
Now downgraded to the nation's third-largest broadband provider following Charter Communications Inc. 's twin acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks last year, AT&T boasts about 14.2 million high-speed data subscribers, most of them on its older, hybrid fiber-copper U-verse network. AT&T offers 1-Gig service for $80 a month when taken alone or $70 a month when it's bundled with other services.
AT&T also declined to reveal its market coverage of the 46 metro areas where it's offering gigabit service now. Like Google Fiber Inc. but unlike most cable operators, the carrier has been able to cherry-pick segments of its fiber markets, rather than roll out service to the entire metro areas.
The latest FTTH push by AT&T comes as other broadband providers scurry to fill the void left by Google Fiber's pullback from its once-ambitious gigabit plans. In one notable gambit last week, Angie Communications announced that it will offer gigabit service to cities where Google Fiber has stopped deploying fiber. Angie, an ISP based in Santa Monica, Calif. that specializes in offering 10Gbit/ service over fiber and wireless networks, did not name the markets it would be entering. But the company, which also operates in the UK and the Netherlands, claims to be rolling out service to on-net buildings in 87 US cities, including Los Angeles. (See Angie Aims to Fill Google Fiber Void.)
At the same time, another major US telco, CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL), is moving ahead with its gigabit deployments. In its latest earnings release last week, CenturyLink reported that it increased "addressable units receiving 100 Mbit/s and 1-gig-plus speeds by 31% and 53%, respectively" over the past year. But, like AT&T, CenturyLink has not yet revealed how many of its broadband customers are actually subscribing to gigabit service.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading