Gigabit Cities

AT&T Goes Extra Broadband Mile

With its drive to close the DirecTV deal now in the home stretch, AT&T is making broadband promises to US federal regulators right and left.

As first reported by DSL Reports on Monday, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is pledging to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that it will offer its gigabit service, GigaPower, to 11.7 million homes and businesses if its $48.5 billion deal to buy DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) is approved. In the filing, AT&T is also promising to give the FCC updates on the plan's progress every 90 days and complete the fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) buildout for GigaPower within four years.

Previously, AT&T, which has launched GigaPower in parts of about a dozen markets throughout the US, had promised to deploy the 1-Gig symmetrical service over fiber links to an additional 2 million homes if the DirecTV purchase was approved. So this new commitment seems to represent a sizable increase over its previous commitments with its top U-verse broadband service.

The only problem is that AT&T has never actually spelled out how many customer locations it planned to reach with GigaPower before. So, as DSL Reports points out, it's pretty difficult to tell from the new, heavily redacted regulatory filing just how many more homes and businesses, if any, the big telco is now pledging to reach.

So far, AT&T has mainly focused on extending GigaPower to new and high-end housing developments in markets where it already has fiber lines in the ground. The company has not yet said how many locations it reaches or how many customers it has signed up for GigaPower.

Want to know more about pay-TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

At the same time that it's making new promises to regulators about its high-end broadband service, AT&T is making similar pledges about its low-end broadband products. In another recent filing with the FCC, the carrier is promising to make two new low-income discount programs available to qualifying consumers in its wireline footprint for four years.

Under the first proposed program, AT&T would offer DSL service with speeds up to 5 Mbit/s to low-income homes in its wireline footprint for just $10 a month for the first year. The monthly price would then rise to $20. This program would be offered in areas where the telco already deploys broadband service at speeds exceeding 3 Mbit/s.

The second proposed program calls for AT&T to offer DSL service with speeds up to 1.5 Mbit/s to low-income households in its wireline footprint for only $5 a month for the first year. The monthly fee would then climb to $10. The carrier would offer this program in areas where it already deploys broadband service at top speeds below 5 Mbit/s.

AT&T made these commitments after company officials met late last month with FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn and her staff. In that meeting, Clyburn expressed her desire to see the merged company offer an affordable, lower-priced, standalone broadband service to low-income consumers.

The FCC is widely expected to approve the AT&T/DirecTV pact, following the US Department of Justice's reported sign-off on the deal last week. So the negotiations and lobbying are now focusing on the conditions and commitments that AT&T will have to meet once the merger goes through. (See AT&T-DirecTV Deal Nearing Approval .)

— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, >Light Reading

Telecomlogic 7/8/2015 | 1:03:16 PM
Facts The 11.7M number came from an ATT filing with the FCC in response to a question as to how/when ATT would deliver the voluntary 2Million ADDITIONAL homes it would pass with fiber as proposed if the DTV deal were approved. ATT's response includes the 9.7Million homes that were already deployed/planned prior to the DTV offer. Hence the confusing 11.7M number though that was probably intended.
kq4ym 7/7/2015 | 7:50:01 PM
Re: Premises Passed Yes, it will be interesting to see how they really would do as promised getting that "to 11.7 million homes and businesses" anytime soon. I do also wonder about those promised programs for low income customers. There's already very similar programs now with CenturyLink and others. But, they are almost secret programs with very little advertising, and only "low" priced for a stated amount of time and then disappear. Those low income folks either will then be priced out of the market or talked into paying the retail price.
KBode 7/7/2015 | 2:39:48 PM
Re: Premises Passed There are, historically, a few things you should never trust. Three card monty, Politicians named Buck, and AT&T's promises when it's trying to get regulatory approval for something.

Would be nice if these details weren't entirely redacted so the public could get some additional insight.
brooks7 7/7/2015 | 2:35:57 PM
Re: Premises Passed Yeah how did that 100% homes passed thing work for the BellSouth Merger?

Oh yeah that's right...they counted every home that could get Satellite!


mendyk 7/7/2015 | 2:25:10 PM
Re: Premises Passed No doubt the local loophole team has had a direct role in formulating the promises.
dfoote 7/7/2015 | 1:50:54 PM
Premises Passed I'm assuming that the meaning of "offer" in:  " . . . it will offer its gigabit service, GigaPower, to 11.7 million homes and businesses" means that fiber will be installed down the street to pass in front (or very nearby) to 11.7M homes and business which is the so called "homes passed" or "premises passed" metric for fiber deployments.

Based on that assumption, in point of comparison, contrasting AT&T fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) public statements about deployment plans with the two other major FTTP deployments in the USA:

- Verizon was pretty open and specific in its stated plans and commitments to deploy FTTP (FiOS) originally in 2004 identified 15M as their target for home passed (which was achieved in 2010).  FiOS now is at 19.8M premises passed.

- Google, on the other hand, as far as I have seen has not been very specific on quantity although in phases they have been rolling out public statements on cities (and specific locales in each city) where they plan to deploy Google Fiber.
Ariella 7/7/2015 | 1:03:35 PM
low cost I'd love to be able to get broadband for just $20 a month. In my area, we have just two choices: Verizon and Optimum, and both are considerably more. 
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