Gigabit Cities

AT&T Joins KC Gigabit Battleground

AT&T expanded its gigabit-speed service into the increasingly giga-crowded Kansas City region today, launching its high-speed broadband service into Google Fiber's debut market and all but guaranteeing a city-by-city gigabit race across the US.

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has launched its U-verse with AT&T GigaPower in parts of Kansas City, Mo., as well as parts of surrounding Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe and Overland Park, Kan. (See AT&T Launches GigaPower Service in Kansas City Area.)

John Sondag, president of AT&T Missouri, tells Light Reading that AT&T's market advantage and speed of deployment over Google Fiber and other providers comes from already having extensive fiber in the region, including fiber-to-the-neighborhood for existing U-verse services. (See AT&T Grows Gigabit Goals, Consolidated Enters KC Gigabit Fray and TWC Speeds Along With Speed Hikes.)

"When we complete the analysis and make the decision that we're going to roll out in an area, we can leverage the existing fiber we have today -- that's why we can deploy it much quicker than Google or others," Sondag says.

The eight-month lead-up time to launching Kansas City "blows away what Google did," he says.

In entering Kansas City, AT&T is either throwing down the gauntlet to Google Fiber Inc. or picking up the one Google Fiber threw down. Many observers believe Google Fiber's intent in pursuing a fiber-to-the-home buildout in various cities is to spur telecom and cable operators to up their speeds for the good of communities (and for the less altruistic reason of speeding consumers' access to Google applications and services).

In announcing its own multi-city expansion last month, Google Fiber head Dennis Kish both acknowledged the importance of other providers and said "We think the next chapter of the web is going to be written on gigabit speeds, and we want our engineers to be unconstrained when they're bringing their innovations to the market." (See Kish to Cities: To Get Google, Get Ready and Is Google Good for Gigabit?)

For the latest on urban network innovation, visit Light Reading's dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel. And be sure to register to attend Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event on May 13-14 in Atlanta.

Sondag says AT&T believes what it brings to communities such as Kansas City transcends just gigabit connectivity to homes, which in and of itself is an important component of addressing current and future demand for bandwidth and overall evolution of communities.

"We look at the evolution of our network not just as this 1-Gig service, but also what we do from a wireless perspective with 4G LTE," he says. "This type of stuff attracts entrepreneurial investment, VC money -- all of that is important not only for economic development but also mindset and quality of life."

As for marketing its gigabit service in a crowded market, Sondag says AT&T will leverage its existing presence, brand familiarity, competitive pricing and video offerings other providers don't have.

"When we roll out, people trust we're going to bring value," he says. "If we're running up against someone else, especially in a market where we've had success, customers will look at it and say 'It's AT&T, it's priced great, they have great customer service and I know them.'"

— Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, Light Reading

sarahthomas1011 2/18/2015 | 11:43:17 AM
paying for privacy So when AT&T was talking about competitive pricing, did it mean charging more to respect your privacy? (Or is it really a discount for giving up some privacy?) That's certainly...innovative?

The WSJ reports today that AT&T is offering two tiers of service, $70 for its fiber access or $99 for access without being tracked while you use it. I'm surprised they are drawing this much attention to the fact that they track your web usage, but I guess it's in the interest of transparency to offer two tiers.

I wonder how many people will opt for the untracked service (and is it truly untracked?). It'll also be interesting to see if it comes down to certain demographics picking one or the other (ie. do young people care more or less about privacy?).


KBode 2/16/2015 | 12:43:14 PM
Re: Competing or dividing a market? I continue to believe this is mostly theater on AT&T's part, as they continue to slash fixed-line CAPEX budget. In most locations Gigapower is aimed at greenfield, higher-end housing developments where fiber is already in the ground. I think the goal is the impression of meeting Google Fiber blow for blow, without actually doing so in most locations.

If AT&T continues to hide total Gigapower subscription totals over the next year, you can be fairly sure we're not talking about more than a handful of actual users.
danielcawrey 2/16/2015 | 12:18:41 PM
Re: Economic benefits All of this rivalry and intention is as a result making broadband speeds really fast in the Kansas City area.

I don't truly believe Google wants to compete with service providers; I think the purpose is to spru them to innovate faster and build up more infrastructure for customers. 
[email protected] 2/16/2015 | 11:20:23 AM
Competing or dividing a market? Does anyone know if AT&T are competing with Google Fibre against the same customers, or if they (both) are targeting customers where the other competitor is not present?
If they both are rolling out fibre to the same households and offer their services, it will be a first, I think. 
[email protected] 2/16/2015 | 9:22:43 AM
Economic benefits "This type of stuff attracts entrepreneurial investment, VC money -- all of that is important not only for economic development but also mindset and quality of life."


I wonder what hard and fast evidence AT&T has for that sort of statement - everyone hopes it's true, but is it quantifiable?
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