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AT&T Pretends 1 Gbps Announcement Unrelated to Google Fiber
A few weeks back, in response to Google Fiber, AT&T announced a plan for fiber to the press release in Austin. That is, the company issued a very weaselly-worded statement claiming they were "prepared to build" an "advanced fiber optic infrastructure" technically capable of 1 Gbps if they saw the precise perks they wanted from regional regulators. AT&T currently struggles to match cable speeds -- much less 1 Gbps fiber -- so the flimsy worded announcement made AT&T come off as disingenuous.



 
Not helping themselves, AT&T is now claiming they had been planning to deploy this 1 Gbps network all along, and that the project actually had nothing to do with Google Fiber. Speaking at the Jeffries 2013 Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, Bill Smith, President of AT&T Network Operations had this to say:

"Our 1 Gbps plans were not in response to Google's announcement," Smith said. "We had a team suit up and developing that plan for some time, but they accelerated our need to go public with it but we had been planning to do it."

To be clear, AT&T does not offer 1 Gbps residential service anywhere. More than half of AT&T's customers remain on last-generation DSL with speeds slower than 6 Mbps. Most of their U-Verse customers are on slower fiber to the node technology. Even in the select-few upscale housing developments where they do offer real fiber to the home, those lines have historically been capped at speeds of 6 to 24 Mbps.

AT&T's claim that they plan to offer 1 Gbps on any meaningful scale simply isn't believable.

I should also note that Smith claimed at the conference that he has yet to have a single customer complaint about U-Verse network speeds since he was placed in charge of the network in 2008. Our U-Verse forum users have something to say about that. Smith also makes it clear that when AT&T talks about 1 Gbps, they're really talking core network potential, not actually-delivered end user speed:

"We have been deploying for some time a Gigabit per second-capable network in GPON in new developments, but the issue is there have not been many new developments built," Smith said.

So again, it sounds like AT&T did have one of their increasingly-scarce U-Verse housing development builds planned for Austin. When Google announced Google Fiber in Austin, AT&T took the opportunity to dramatically "sex up" their plan, making it sound the same as offering symmetrical 1 Gbps to a large chunk of Austin. The press by and large took the bait without AT&T having to spend a single additional dime. Whether consumers ever actually see 1 Gbps from AT&T in Austin in any serious scale remains something to keep a close eye on.