AT&T to extend 1 Gig service to more fiber-enabled business customers

AT&T (NYSE: T) is capitalizing on the fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) program of its Project VIP initiative by launching its new Business Fiber service that will ultimately provide up to 1 Gbps speeds.

Similar to its GigaPower U-verse rollout for residential customers, the new service initially will offer speeds of up to 300 Mbps with future plans to offer up to 1 Gbps. Eligible customers can also choose from a mix of symmetric and asymmetric speeds that go as low as 25 Mbps.

"Clearly they are committed to Ethernet and committed to fiber and part of moving to IP as part of Project VIP," said Rosemary Cochran, Principal of Vertical Systems Group, in an interview with FierceTelecom. "This is targeting mid-market customers that are looking for that kind of speed with this roll out of 300 Mbps and going up to a Gig."

Pricing for the service is competitive with area cable offerings. The 25 Mbps asymmetric tier is priced as low as $50 per month, for example.

Customers that sign up for the service will also get firewall protection via a fiber broadband gateway device.

Besides Internet access service, businesses that reside in AT&T Fiber Ready buildings will be able to get access to a broader mix of security and network services such as IP VPN and cloud-based services, all of which ride on the fiber network.

Cochran said the FTTB initiative will fits in well with AT&T's focus on serving large multinational corporation customers and its user-defined cloud strategy.

"AT&T has the Fortune 500 large global companies and the channels and some of the other things AT&T is rolling out with cloud and their Net Bond technology," Cochran said. "They are trying to integrate as much as possible and having the underlying fiber and Ethernet be the foundation for those services that are going to be layered on top of that and provide the basis for new services that they are either planning or putting out."

Business Fiber is the first new service introduced under its FTTB program, which includes plans to reach over 1 million additional business customer locations with fiber in AT&T's wireline serving area.

The new service will be available to more than 16,000 businesses located in AT&T Fiber Ready Buildings in six markets including: Austin, San Antonio, Detroit, Indianapolis, Sacramento, and Orlando. AT&T said it expects to launch the fiber-based service in additional markets later this year.

Already, GameStop Corp. is taking advantage of the new service, having it installed in its retail store located at the Barton Creek Mall in Austin, Texas. The company said the AT&T fiber-based service will support its GameStop Technology Institute, which is focused on delivering to its brick-n-mortar retail stores technology advancements that drive positive customer experiences and accelerate the pace of change within the retail industry.

AT&T's debut of Business Fiber is a sign that the telco is making progress with the FTTB portion of Project VIP.

During the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference, John Stankey, group president and chief strategy officer for AT&T, said the service provider is where it needs to be with extending fiber to buildings in its wireline footprint.

"We're on pace with everything we said we wanted to do on the business side with fiber to the building," Stankey said.

AT&T is certainly not alone in its FTTB desires.

CenturyLink announced a similar initiative in August where it would roll out fiber with 1 Gbps capabilities in 16 markets. Six of the markets it is expanding fiber into are targeting only businesses, while the remaining ten will target a mix of both residential and business customers.

"CenturyLink had an announcement with fiber and certainly Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Cox, are in that space as well for power users for Internet so getting the fiber into the building is key," Cochran said. 

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
AT&T's Stankey: The wireline portion of Project VIP is on track
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AT&T's U-verse successes help drive total wireline revenues to $14.6B

Updated article on Sept. 22 with quotes from Rosemary Cochran, Principal of Vertical Systems Group.