AT&T and Google commence fibre battle in Texas

10 April 2013 | Kavit Majithia


AT&T has drawn the battle lines with Google after both companies announced they would build rivaling fibre optic broadband cables in Austin, Texas.

The move, intended to increase download speeds to 1Gbps, comes after Google Fiber was successfully rolled-out in Kansas City last year.

Google said it plans to connect homes to 1Gbps connectivity in Austin by mid-2014, in the same way it launched gigabit internet and a 200 channel TV package in Kansas last November.

With AT&T headquartered in Dallas, Texas, the move to roll out its own fibre network in the state was widely expected and the move was confirmed on the same day as Google’s announcement. It too, will roll out a 1Gbps fibre network as part of its Project VIP initiative, announced last year.

There is now increasing competition in the US, in particular between telecoms operators, cable providers and internet based companies, particularly in next-generation broadband, with the US administration encouraging companies like Google to build infrastructure and increase the battle for broadband market share.

AT&T said in a statement that it was “pleased to see local communities and municipalities acknowledging the promise and power of economic development associated with telecoms investment”, but further stated it was committing to the investment on the premise that it was offered the same terms and conditions as Google in the state.

The US operator already offers TV and internet services through its U-verse fibre package, however this latest move marks a big step in its fibre strategy because it has previously expressed doubts over consumer demand for ultra fast internet services. The latest development could signal a change in attitude towards fibre deployments in the US amongst the largest operators, according to market watchers.

The Financial Times says AT&T has spent over $98 billion in capital over the past five years, but its announcement to launch a fibre network in Texas is not expected to materially alter the company’s 2013 expenditures.