AT&T launches 300 Mbps U-verse in Austin with 1 Gbps on the way

Attempting to beat Google Fiber to the punch, AT&T (NYSE:T) has launched its fiber to the home (FTTH) based GigaPower U-verse service in Austin, TX. AT&T initially will offer 300 Mbps downstream speeds via GigaPower, with an eye towards offering 1 Gbps next year. However, the local government may pass new local ordinances that will force AT&T to help its rival catch up.

Dec 12th, 2013

Attempting to beat Google Fiber to the punch, AT&T (NYSE:T) has launched its fiber to the home (FTTH) based GigaPower U-verse service in Austin, TX. AT&T initially will offer 300 Mbps downstream speeds via GigaPower, with an eye towards offering 1 Gbps next year. However, the local government may pass new local ordinances that will force AT&T to help its rival catch up.

AT&T put 1-Gbps FTTH in Austin on the fast track after Google announced it would bring its Google Fiber service to the city (see “Google Fiber coming to Austin”). The service provider first said it would consider FTTH in Austin if it received equal treatment from city officials (see “AT&T: We’ll do 1 Gbps in Austin too – maybe”), then officially announced its 1-Gbps plans (see “AT&T to launch 1-Gbps FTTH in Austin”).

The carrier says it will expand service availability “beyond parts of Austin area neighborhoods like French Place, Mueller, Zilker and Onion Creek to even more residents and small businesses in 2014.” The fact that it will offer services to small businesses as well as residences would seem to differentiate its plans from Google’s, which has focused solely on residential customers in its other FTTH roll outs.

“U-verse with GigaPower” will come in two versions. The Premier package pairs Internet with video. The Internet service will cost $70 per month, with HD video available for $120 a month. Equipment, installation, and activation fees will be waived, and HBO and HBO GO will be provided at no charge for 36 months. The Standard service, which is Internet only, will cost $99 monthly.

In each case, the 300-Mbps speeds will be upgraded to 1 Gbps at no charge when it becomes available next year. AT&T has not set a more specific target date for the arrival of the higher speed.

Google has said it hopes to start service delivery in the city by the middle of 2014. Meanwhile, it may receive a boost from the Austin City Council, which is expected this week to vote on a measure that would force AT&T to allow Google to string fiber on AT&T’s poles, according to local reports such as this one from the Austin American-Statesman. The move aims to minimize disruption to the city as Google deploys its network. AT&T owns approximately 20% of the utility poles in the city, while the city owns the rest, the American-Statesman reports.

AT&T, naturally, isn’t happy about the idea and asserts that Google is receiving unprecedented concessions from the city, according to the local news story. The proposed FTTH roll out is equally unprecedented, Austin’s telecommunications and regulatory affairs officer is reported to have said.

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