AT&T responds to Google Fiber with its own 1 Gbps plan for Austin

It took AT&T (NYSE: T) less than a few hours to announce it also plans to offer a 1 Gbps fiber to the home service following Google Fiber's (Nasdaq: GOOG) highly anticipated announcement in Austin, Texas.

But when will AT&T's 1 Gbps FTTH network be available?

Other than saying that the "expanded investment is not expected to materially alter AT&T's anticipated 2013 capital expenditures," the carrier did not provide any specific deployment timeline. Google, meanwhile, said it will start connecting homes in Austin in mid-2014, offering the same broadband service options that Kansas City residents can get today.

The other issue that will impact how fast AT&T rolls out the service will lie in their ability to get the same permitting concessions that Google Fiber got in Kansas City to install fiber cable on existing utility poles. 

"AT&T's expanded fiber plans in Austin anticipate it will be granted the same terms and conditions as Google on issues such as geographic scope of offerings, rights of way, permitting, state licenses and any investment incentives," AT&T said in a release about their 1 Gbps plans.

Today's reality is that AT&T's broadband capabilities don't come even near 1 Gbps. In Austin, AT&T U-verse customers can get up to 24 Mbps of bandwidth. As part of its Project VIP initiative, AT&T had said that it would deliver, in various areas, up to 45 Mbps and later 75 Mbps using a mix of IP-DSLAMS, VDSL2 and vectoring.

Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), another one of Google Fiber's competitors in Austin, welcomed Google's move. "We're prepared for added competition and believe that any innovation in broadband technology is good for all of us," a spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal.

TWC's statement supporting Google's FTTH plan contradicts its dismissive attitude towards 1 Gbps services. 

Last December, Rob Marcus, TWC's COO, questioned whether anyone actually needs a 1 Gbps connection, saying his company can provide it if someone wants such a high-bandwidth service.

"It will be interesting to find out whether there are applications that will take advantage of a 1 Gbps service," Marcus was quoted as saying in a DSL Reports article. "If there is [a need for speed], we will provide it; our infrastructure has the ability to provide much faster speeds today. We're prepared to compete head-to-head with Google."

For more:
- here's the AT&T release
- Wall Street Journal has this article (sub req.)

Related articles:
AT&T to extend wireline IP network to 57M customer locations
Google Fiber comes to Austin, mayor announces
Report: Google Fiber to challenge AT&T and Time Warner Cable in Austin
Google's Schmidt: Kansas City is just one stop on FTTH journey