Making good on last year's promise to bring high-speed gigabit Internet to 21 cities, AT&T announced it will match the prices and speeds of Google Fiber with the launch of U-verse and GigaPower for customers in Kansas City.
The service also will be available to Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, and Overland Park, Kansas, as well as surrounding areas. Independence, Missouri and Shawnee, Kansas will eventually enjoy the benefits of gigabit speeds, too.
AT&T promises download speeds of 1 gigabit per second to broadband customers in these areas, a speed that is nearly 100 times faster than most connections available in the U.S. U-verse Internet with up to 1 Gbp/s speeds will cost customers $70 per month with a three-year price guarantee. Combine that with a basic TV service package for $120 per month, which includes HBO for three years. A triple-pay package with voice will be $150 per month.
However, that $70 price point includes AT&T Internet Preferences, which tracks your behavior across the Internet to deliver relevant ads. If you drop AT&T Internet Preferences, the price increases to $99.
"This is just our initial launch," John Sondag, president of AT&T Missouri, said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing to expand our AT&T GigaPower network in the Kansas City area where there are strong investment cases and receptive customers."
AT&T's gigabit push further establishes Kansas City as the place where high bandwidth Internet is common and plentiful. It was the first city with Google Fiber, and its bandwidth prices are relatively inexpensive there compared with other cities. Analysts have wondered whether Google Fiber was rolled out to make profit or to encourage other companies to invest in faster Internet. In Kansas City, competition has arisen.
The extra competition also changes the way local governments deal with companies. It takes a lot of work to build a network, work which involves digging up streets and lawns, and the need for a lot of building permits. Google went to Kansas City expecting to cut out the red tape that could slow down and increase the cost of a project like Fiber. But one city after another agreed to make things easier. Now those cities are likely to do the same for the competition.
However, the uncertainty surrounding net neutrality may delay AT&T's future rollout of GigaPower. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has said the company will pause future installations of gigabit Internet until the FCC settles on a concrete plan. The FCC is scheduled to vote on net neutrality Feb. 26 and is considering whether it should, and has the authority to, reclassify the Internet as a public utility.