AT&T Asks: Do You Dig the Gig?In October 2014, AT&T joined Google as a gigabit-capable Internet provider by launching its 1 Gbps Gigapower service in Austin, Texas. It then added Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, Miami and other cities to its network. In late March, AT&T said it would expand GigaPower service, offering 1 Gbps service in Apple’s home of Cupertino, CA. On April 13, residents of Atlanta got the news that it was coming to their town. And go crazy, Cubs fans, because just days ago, AT&T announced service in several Chicago suburbs, with service for the city itself to follow soon. AT&T at least partially credits the expansion to its merger with DirecTV. Although there are some who question the validity of that statement, it does create something of a “what if” scenario regarding the failed Comcast-Time Warner deal. How Badly do You Want It? For the Cupertino market, 1 Gbps service will cost $110 per month. In Atlanta and Oswego, IL, service will cost $10 more each month. And yes, that’s quite a bit of money for Internet access. However, we don’t think the price will be much of an impediment to the service for these four main reasons. 1. Early adopters are always willing to pay more for new technology; these are customers who want it, not necessarily need it. And for businesses that need gigabit speeds and bandwidth, $110 a month is nothing. 2. Few individuals or even families need that much speed, and AT&T knows that. Lower priced, yet still quite fast service will also be available. In Cupertino, for instance, $80 per month will get you 300 Mbps—still more than many consumers actually need, if not want. 3. Prices will eventually decline as gigabit service becomes more common. Over time, bargain plans have become faster, and fast plans have become cheaper. It may take time, but someday, the gig will be commonplace. More subscribers will lower per-subscriber costs to maintain the network. 4. Competition will drive prices down. At first, some ISPs launched gigabit networks in areas that would make them the exclusive provider, but AT&T and Google now both offer service in Kansas City, Austin, and Raleigh-Durham. Indeed in Austin, AT&T’s 1 Gbps plan costs only $70. It’s not a Free Lunch, but We’ll Take It Even if you’re not interested in paying for a full 1 Gbps, residents in these cities may get a welcome bump in speed. When AT&T implemented gigabit service in Austin, it upgraded the speeds of its existing GigaPower customers free of charge. If you don’t live in one of the cities we’ve mentioned, don’t fret. AT&T now offers GigaPower service in 10 cities, plans to launch service in seven more, and is exploring eight other possible locations. That’s 25 total, and that number will certainly increase in the future. Like the redcoats, the gig is coming, so hang a lantern and tell your neighbors. For those whose city is on that map, it’s definitely time to take a look at prices, even if you’re not interested in the full 1 Gbps. And if GigaPower isn’t coming to your town, you still might be surprised at plans that are available, especially if you haven’t checked in a while. Photo Credit: Mike Mozart/Flikr
Will Smith is a copywriter living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His favorite word is “petrichor,” and aside from wordplay, he loves reading history, watching Dodger baseball, and racing with the Sports Car Club of America.