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?)
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