NEW YORK—Would you like to download 25 songs in less than a second, a TV show in three seconds or fewer and a high-definition movie in under 36 seconds?
AT&T claims such blazing speeds for its GigaPower service. And on Monday, the company announced that it is expanding the availability of this broadband 1-gigabit per second all-fiber Internet service into 38 new metropolitan-area markets, including the parts of Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Fla., that are launching today.
The remainder of the new markets will launch in 2016, and come on top of the 18 GigaPower markets that have already gone live, AT&T says. According to the company, GigaPower is now available in 20 of the nation’s largest metro areas, with service reaching more than one million locations around the country.
AT&T launched GigaPower in Austin, Texas about two years ago. The rival Google Fiber service started up in the Kansas City area in 2012.
GOOGLE FIBER RIVALRY
“Google captured the early attention,” says analyst Jan Dawson of Jackdaw Research. “But to this point AT&T is doing it much faster.” Dawson says Google doesn’t have the infrastructure, history or “incumbent” status that AT&T has in many markets.
Google Fiber currently operates in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, Utah, with markets such as San Antonio, Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Raleigh-Durham on Google’s roadmap. Comcast also has ambitions in the super-speedy Internet race.
AT&T hasn’t spelled out how GigaPower will be priced in its own new markets just yet, which includes Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis, Oklahoma City, St. Louis and Wichita. Brad Bentley, executive vice president and chief marketing officer for AT&T Entertainment Group, says that rates will differ by market. “We need to be competitive and drive share,” he says. The service will be available to AT&T U-verse subscribers and DirecTV customers.
The Consumerist blog says that AT&T tends to charge up to $40 more per month in markets where it’s not competing with Google Fiber; the typical monthly range is $70 to $110.
What’s more, under some plans, AT&T offers price breaks to consumers who are willing to share their online behavior with advertisers, a practice that is likely to continue.
As a practical matter, not everyone will experience the ultra-fast speeds being promised by AT&T, especially since so many people rely on and are limited by Wi-Fi. Still, Dawson sees AT&T’s GigaPower expansion as increasing competition, “ultimately a good thing for consumers.”
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