AT&T keeps Comcast, Charter at bay by bringing 1 Gbps business service speeds to 13 new markets

AT&T (NYSE: T) is giving business customers in 13 markets an opportunity to get up to 1 Gbps speeds thanks to its ongoing roll out of GPON technology in its AT&T Business Fiber (ABF) footprint. This latest fiber drive enables AT&T to more effectively compete with Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) and Comcast Business (NASDAQ: CMCSA), two cable MSOs that continue to encroach into the ILEC's business territory. 

Markets where the telco's ABF service will now be available to businesses in AT&T Fiber Ready buildings include Chicago, Dallas, Miami and San Francisco in multi-tenant units (MTUs).

Ultimately, AT&T plans to roll out 1 Gbps service in the 180 markets where it has built out fiber to MTUs as part of the fiber-to-the-business (FTTB) program within the Project VIP initiative.

Initially offering a top speed of 300 Mbps, AT&T has been increasing the available profiles in its Fiber Ready buildings to include 500 Mbps and 1 Gbps. The service provider now offers a range of speeds from as low as 2 Mbps up to 1 Gbps with various speeds in between such as 25 and 100 Mbps.

Rias Muhamed, director of product management for AT&T Business Solutions, told FierceTelecom that the telco is seeing more of its customers ask for higher speeds.

Customers range from very small businesses, medium-sized companies, and branch offices of larger companies.

"Demand is very much there for high speeds and you're seeing over time people taking higher and higher speeds," Muhamed said. "It used to be 25 Mbps and now it's more people moving upwards as well as moving towards symmetric speeds."

AT&T is finding that symmetrical speeds are becoming more attractive to customers moving into the cloud.

"We find people in the higher speeds do a lot of work around the cloud," Muhamed said. "Symmetrical speeds are attractive to folks who want higher uploads of storage, which can be done a lot faster over big, fat pipes."

Not surprisingly, AT&T is seeing growing competition for higher speed business services from cable operators like Charter Communications and Comcast, particularly for 150 Mbps and above.

"When we started this initiative, cable had some places with 100 Mbps and 150 Mbps, and obviously now when DOCSIS 3.1 gets rolled out you'll have 1 Gbps speeds," Muhamed said. "We are having good luck to compete against cable and the prices points are very competitive."

But speeds are only one part of the overall equation.

Muhamed said that as it equips more business locations with Ethernet MUX (EMUX) gear and fiber, AT&T has more potential to upsell businesses multiple services.

"It is built on a multiservice platform," Muhamed said. "In these buildings where we place fiber, we put in Ethernet multiplexers so these buildings are enabled not just for broadband services, but it also enables switched Ethernet services, dedicated internet services, VPN and collaboration services."

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