AT&T expands 1 Gig service in four new markets

AT&T (NYSE: T) is expanding its 1 Gbps FTTH presence in parts of four markets, a likely response to Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) move to expand its gigabit broadband footprint via DOCSIS 3.1 technology.

In this latest network build, AT&T has launched its 1 Gbps services to select homes, apartments, and SMBs in parts of Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Miami.

Upon completion, AT&T will expand service to a total amount of 21 communities in these areas.

This latest service drive follows an announcement AT&T made in December that it plans to build out FTTH service to parts of 38 additional metro areas. With service already up and running in 18 metros, this latest build would more than double the amount of metro areas it serves to a total of 56.

Analysts say that they see fiber along with IP transition and SDN as key elements in AT&T's overall service and network evolution strategy.

"Fiber is still a major (some would say "THE") pillar in the AT&T strategy," said Jennifer Fritzsche, senior analyst for Wells Fargo, in a research note. "Nothing in these meetings changed our conviction here -- if anything it strengthened it. But IP transition and SDN remain a top focus for T C-Suite -- and fiber is the critical element for each."

What's interesting about AT&T's latest launch is that it comes just a day after Comcast revealed it would provide DOCSIS 3.1-enabled gigabit services to five markets this year, a number of which are the same where AT&T offers its 1 Gbps GigaPower service.

From an investment and time to market perspective, what's tantalizing about Comcast's move is that it can leverage the existing hybrid fiber coax (HFC) plant it already has deployed. The cable MSO claims that once it completes a DOCSIS 3.1 rollout in a given market, customers with gigabit-capable devices will be able to get the service by signing up for a new plan and just plugging in a new modem.

"It is worth noting all these cities for which CMCSA announced this service are Google Fiber and / or T GigaPower cities," Fritzsche said. We do not think this is a coincidence. We believe cable will be spending on its plant and pushing fiber deeper."

For more:
- see the release

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