A few years ago, AT&T realized something amazing: you don’t have to build a cutting edge, fiber to the home broadband network, when it’s relatively easy to fool the press and public into believing you’re building cutting edge, fiber to the home network. So as AT&T was actually busy reducing its fixed-line broadband spending and quietly walking away from DSL users it didn’t want to upgrade, it launched a service it calls “U-Verse with Gigapower.” Basically, AT&T’s delivering gigabit speeds to high-end housing developments, then pretending the upgrades are much, much larger than they actually are.
Case in point: AT&T this week breathlessly announced that the company was deploying gigabit fiber to 38 more markets, bringing the grand total of its gigabit fiber deployment to an amazing 56 total metro markets:
“AT&T announced today it is planning to expand the availability of ultra-fast speeds through AT&T GigaPower to homes, apartments and small businesses in parts of 38 additional metros across the United States – which will total at least 56 metros served. With the launch of our ultra-fast Internet service in parts of 2 of these metros today – Los Angeles and West Palm Beach – AT&T GigaPower is now available in 20 of the nation’s largest metros.
Note a few things about the announcement, however. Nowhere does the company state when these connections will be delivered. Similarly nowhere does the company make clear that it’s targeting mostly high-end housing developments where fiber is already in the ground, making costs negligible (the only way you could technically accomplish a deployment of this kind and magically have your CAPEX consistently drop). And while AT&T claims these improvements will someday reach 14 million residential and commercial locations, in traditional telecom fashion AT&T likely means “homes passed” with fiber (often up to a quarter mile away), not necessarily “served” with fiber. It’s the magic of telecom math.
Nowhere — now or ever — will you see AT&T specify precisely how many users have, or will be able to get gigabit speeds from AT&T. That’s because, in reality, users in these “launched” markets will almost always find it difficult if not impossible to sign up for this gigabit service. And, in some cases, by a “launched” market AT&T actually means a few dozen homes sitting on a hill in a single housing development.
Now take a minute and look at the press coverage of AT&T’s announcement, and try to find one news outlet that could be bothered to note the limited nature of these launches. Whether it’s the Shreveport Times or the pages of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, AT&T’s convinced the entire country that it’s on the cusp of getting gigabit fiber that — for the vast majority of them — is never going to actually arrive. Even technology news outlets that should know better (if they’d spent five minutes studying AT&T’s history on this front) are busying bandying about quotes how AT&T is “outpacing every other competitor.”
To be clear, some AT&T customers will certainly…