Telecom provider AT&T said it intends to bring its fiber-to-the-home internet service known as “U-verse with GigaPower” to 21 metropolitan areas, which will provide many more customers the opportunity to have 1-gigabit-per-second download speeds.
The 21 new areas to be included in the expansion are Atlanta, Augusta, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Ft. Worth, Ft. Lauderdale, Greensboro, Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, San Antonio, San Diego, St. Louis, San Francisco, and San Jose. AT&T will be negotiating with municipalities in order to start building by the end of the year.
U-verse with GigaPower is already offered in Austin, but at 300 Mbps, which the company intends to bump up to 1 Gbps by year’s end, according to CNET reports. AT&T also wants to upgrade places like Austin, Dallas, and North Carolina’s Research Triangle to 1Gbps download speeds.
Technology industry analyst Jeff Kagan stated, “The scope of this effort simply takes your breath away. This will bring ultra-high-speed Internet to more cities, more quickly than any other company in the industry to date.”
Other initiatives to bring faster data speeds include Google Fiber, a 1Gbps service that’s currently available in Kansas City, Austin, and Provo, UT. And there are plans to roll it out to eight other metro areas.
This “last-mile”, or last leg of the journey data makes to a house is crucially important to the growth of higher-bandwidth services like streaming video and streaming gaming. Netflix recommends a minimum speed of 3 Mbps for SD quality video, 5 Mbps for HD, and 20 Mbps for Ultra HD 4K.
The average connection speed in America is 9.8 Mbps according to Akamai’s “State of the Internet” report from 3Q2013.
Many see AT&T and Google as leaders in bringing faster internet speeds into homes. But incumbent telecom providers have more-or-less been dragging their heels when it comes to network improvements. And a proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner is expected to further monopolize certain markets where there’s little competition, providing even less incentive to improve service levels.
With net neutrality rules in flux, network operators that also offer hosted services might have an advantage over service providers that don’t own the networks on which they operate by favoring their own services. But at least the expansion of fiber providers could offer more consumer choice, and higher speeds.
Higher speeds mean that everyone can experience rich applications and more fully take part in the internet economy.