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Optical/IP Networks

AT&T launches 5-Gig speeds in all fiber markets

AT&T has gone wide with multi-gigabit fiber services, announcing Thursday that it has extended its symmetrical 2-Gig and 5-Gig to parts of its full fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) footprint.

The expansion (the full list can be viewed here) follows AT&T's initial launch of multi-gig services to more than 70 US markets.

An AT&T store in Brooklyn, N.Y. 
 
(Source: Robert K. Chin-Storefronts/Alamy Stock Photo)
An AT&T store in Brooklyn, N.Y.
(Source: Robert K. Chin-Storefronts/Alamy Stock Photo)

AT&T said this expansion includes parts of its fiber footprint spanning more than 100 US metro areas. It estimates that about 7 million locations in 21 states now have access to its new multi-gigabit tiers.

AT&T said it will continue to expand multi-gig capabilities inside its FTTP footprint in 2022, and reiterated plans to expand fiber to more than 30 million customer locations by the end of 2025. Markets on tap for fiber builds include Abilene, Tyler, Victoria, Wichita Falls, and Longview, Texas; Lawton, Oklahoma; and Youngstown, Ohio.

Pricing on AT&T's new multi-gig remain at the levels announced last month:

  • Residential 2-Gig for $110 per month, or business 2-Gig for $225 per month
  • Residential 5-Gig for $180 per month, or business 5-Gig for $395 per month

AT&T is continuing to bundle in HBO Max and its ActiveArmor Internet security service with its multi-gig fiber tiers.

The company has yet to offer any color on how the new multi-gig offerings are resonating. More detail about AT&T's fiber strategy, and color on initial customer adoption of multi-gig services, might be shared tomorrow (March 11) during AT&T's analyst and investor day.

AT&T speed expansion enters the picture as several telcos, including Frontier Communications, Verizon Communications and Ziply Fiber, get more aggressive with their own multi-gig offerings.

How cable is addressing the threat

US cable is looking to counter by implementing "high-split" upgrades on DOCSIS 3.1 networks that tack on upstream capacity and enable multi-gigabit broadband services. Comcast, Charter Communications, Cox Communications and Cable One are among the US operators that have DOCSIS 4.0 – a platform that can support speeds of 10 Gbit/s down and 6 Gbit/s up – on their respective technology roadmaps.

Charter Chairman and CEO Tom Rutledge downplayed the threat posed by multi-gig broadband services yesterday at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference.

"It's a marketing claim," Rutledge said of the recent wave of multi-gig competition. "It's a claim without much reality from a [broadband] use perspective. Even 1-Gig down is, to some extent, a marketing play from a reality perspective."

But data consumption and the adoption of gigabit tiers are on the rise. According to a new study from OpenVault, average consumer broadband consumption in North America surpassed half a terabyte (TB) in the fourth quarter of 2021. The same study found that consumers on speed tiers of 1-Gig or more increased to about 12.2% at the end of 2021.

But Rutledge believes the industry's widely deployed hybrid fiber/coax (HFC) networks are in good position to respond to fiber competition. The use of high-splits on DOCSIS 3.1 networks and future DOCSIS 4.0 upgrades give Charter a platform "virtually equivalent" to FTTP and can be deployed rapidly at a lower cost, Rutledge said. "We have the ability to get ourselves in front of any competitive situation quickly."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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