Seeking to claim the US broadband speed crown from Comcast, Google Fiber and other leading rivals, AT&T is extending the reach of its fiber network within its footprint and launching G.fast service in nearly two dozen markets outside its footprint.
For starters, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), the US's third-largest broadband provider after Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Charter Communications Inc. with nearly 15.7 million subscribers at the end of June, announced today that it's extending its all-fiber network to two midsized metro areas in the Southeast -- Biloxi-Gulfport, Miss. and Savannah, Ga. With that extension, AT&T Fiber now reaches parts of 57 metros across the country. (See AT&T Going Gig in 50+ Metros.)
Further, AT&T said it is expanding FTTH coverage of more than 60 communities in 20 of its existing fiber markets. The list includes such major markets as Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, San Antonio and San Francisco. The company did not spell out how much it's increasing its fiber coverage, which enables symmetrical 1 Gig service, in those 60 communities.
With these moves, AT&T claims to have the largest fiber network in its 21-state home broadband footprint, reaching more than 5.5 million residential and commercial locations across the 57 markets after adding over 1.5 million sites since Jan. 1. Plans call for extending service availability to another 1.5 million locations by year's end, boosting the total to 7 million.
Of those 5.5 million homes and businesses now reached by AT&T Fiber, the telco said it has signed up more than 2 million broadband subscribers. The company did not, however, break out how many of those subs are new ones, as opposed to DSL customers who have been upgraded to the new FTTH network.
How those numbers compare to the high-speed data sub totals of AT&T's chief competitors is still largely anybody's guess because no one is talking yet. Comcast, for instance, has not yet revealed how many of its market-leading 25.3 million broadband subscribers are getting gigabit service through its own FTTH and DOCSIS 3.1 deployments.
At the same time that it's expanding its fiber reach for gigabit speeds, AT&T is also launching G.fast service over its copper wires throughout the US. Focusing on multiple-dwelling-unit (MDU) properties like apartment and condo buildings, the company said it is now offering 500 Mbit/s service in eight markets after wrapping up a G.fast trial in Minneapolis. The initial eight markets are Boston, Denver, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle and Tampa. (See AT&T: Mining the MDU Market and AT&T Explores G.fast for MDUs.)
Plans call for extending service to MDUs in another 14 markets outside its traditional footprint shortly, including such larger ones as Baltimore, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. and Salt Lake City, with more markets possible by the end of the year. In addition, AT&T indicated that it could boost download speeds for its G.fast subs to 1 Gig eventually.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading