AT&T Gears Up for the Gigabit Era

GigaPower to Be Available to 1M Homes, Businesses This Year
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With 1 Gigabit-per-second now viewed as the bar for high-end residential broadband speeds, AT&T has been leaping over it with GigaPower, a fiber-based broadband platform that can complement its other services.

And with the DirecTV deal wrapped up, AT&T is also going to push harder on the deployment front to make make fiber available to a mix of 14 million customer locations, including both residences and businesses.

As of today (Sept. 28), AT&T will have GigaPower up and running in parts of 17 markets, following its most recent launches in Orlando, Fla., and San Antonio, Texas.

“In terms of coverage by end of year, we’ll be available in more than 1 million locations,” Eric Boyer, senior vice president of GigaPower, commercial and connected communities, said. “There’s not a lot of public disclosures out there among gigabit providers, but if we’re not the biggest, we’re awful darn close.”

AT&T is pushing the needle in the 1-Gig arena as competition continues to heat up. In addition to the specter of Google Fiber in select areas, cable operators are also starting to use fiber-to-the-premises in a targeted fashion, complementing their widespread DOCSIS 3.0 platforms. And cable’s multi-Gigabit DOCSIS 3.1 platform is on the horizon.

As for AT&T’s accelerating GigaPower rollout, Boyer attributes it to a mix of factors, including partnerships with local franchises, improving deployment and operational processes, and falling technology costs.

“It helps to have a partner at the municipal level that’s willing to work with us to ensure that we’re able to deploy quickly and efficiently and do it in the right way,” he said. “Those partnerships are so critical in terms of our ability to bring the service quickly and efficiently.”

AT&T, which got GigaPower off the ground in 2013 in Austin, Texas, and continues to base its deployments on GPON technology, has not said how many customers have GigaPower, but “the customer demand has just been outstanding,” Boyer said, noting it’s coming by way of customers who are upgrading services or switching from other providers.

While AT&T has traditionally teamed GigaPower with U-verse TV services, it’s also going to take advantage of its DirecTV acquisition, particularly with apartments and other types of multiple-dwelling units.

“That’s a key part of our GigaPower story moving forward,” he said of the MDU market, noting that AT&T already has an in-region direct sales force for U-verse and will also take advantage of DirecTV’s national dealer network.

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