AT&T's $70 a month FTTH service comes with a privacy catch

AT&T (NYSE: T) officially launched its U-verse with GigaPower 1 Gbps fiber to the home (FTTH) service in Austin, but customers who want the $70 a month option must agree to have their Internet searches tracked.

"Customers can choose to receive our best price on U-verse with GigaPower by opting into AT&T Internet Preferences and selecting our Premier offer," AT&T said on their GigaPower page. "With AT&T Internet Preferences, you allow us to use your web browsing activity (where you go on the web) to provide you with more relevant offers and advertising."

Eligible customers will be able to choose from two FTTH service options: Premier and Standard.

Premier will provide customers with 300 Mbps for $70 a month and includes the waiver of equipment, installation and activation fees. Customers who want a double play bundle of Internet and U-verse TV will get free HBO for 36 months and HD service for $120 per month with qualifying TV services. 

Standard will also offer customers up to 300 Mbps for $99 a month with the option to upgrade to the 1 Gbps tier when it becomes available next year at no extra cost. What's more, U-verse with GigaPower customers that have a wireless subscription will get 50 GB of free cloud storage.

Users can also purchase a triple play bundle of voice, video and data for $150 a month.

The service provider said that it will expand the availability of U-verse with GigaPower beyond parts of Austin area neighborhoods such as French Place, Mueller, Zilker and Onion Creek in 2014. Similar to the signup process Google Fiber (Nasdaq: GOOG) has taken in Kansas City, Austin residents will be able to vote for their neighborhood at

What makes Austin a ripe target for the 1 Gbps FTTH service is that its residential and business sector has consumed more bandwidth than any of the other markets where it offers its U-verse broadband service.

"The economics are really starting on fiber deployments to homes, and communities like Austin where utilization of broadband runs so much higher than other parts of the country are very attractive," said Randall Stephenson, CEO and chairman of AT&T during the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference. "There a lot of other geographies around the country where we are looking at these experiences and saying "we want to go do more of this."

While he did not cite any specific future plans, Stephenson added that Austin won't be the last community where they will build out FTTH.

"You're going to probably see us do more of these Austin-type projects in the future," he said.

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
AT&T U-verse revenues rise 28 percent to $3.1B, subscribers top 10 million
AT&T to roll out Austin 1 Gbps FTTH service in mid-2014, but pricing not revealed
AT&T's Stephenson: We'll equip other markets with FTTH
AT&T's Smith: Our Austin 1 Gbps plan is not a response to Google Fiber
AT&T responds to Google Fiber with its own 1 Gbps plan for Austin