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AT&T's Fixed Wireless Service Goes Nationwide

Following trials in select Northeast markets last year, AT&T said it has moved ahead with the national launch of AT&T Wireless Home Phone and Internet, a service that leans on the telco’s 4G LTE network, and allows customers to hook up as many as 10 WiFi-capable devices.

The service, viewed partly as a rural play, uses a Home Base device (pictured above) that enables customers to complete calls on their existing home phones over AT&T’s wireless network (rather than via a landline connection. The wireless broadband service also taps into that cellular network, including speedier LTE connections, if they’re available in the market.

But there are some caveats, particularly around capped data consumption. AsDSL Reports points out, AT&T’s fixed LTE service runs $60 a month with a 10 Gigabyte cap, $90 per month for 20 GB, or $120 for 30 GB. Once that cap is exceeded, AT&T charges $15 per 1 GB of data. The voice component of AT&T Wireless Home Phone and Internet runs $20 per month, and includes caller ID, three-way calling, call forwarding and voice mail. AT&T is also offering the $199 Home Base device for free to customers who sign a two-year contract.  

AT&T notes that Wireless Home Phone & Internet subs can also add their device for $30 a month to a Mobile Share Value plan, so long as they pair that with a shared data plan of 10 GB or more.  

According to the service’s FAQ, AT&T Home Base will support download speeds of 5 Mbps to 12 Mbps “in most LTE covered areas,” but notes that speed will vary depending on factors such as the number of devices accessing the Home Base devices and if customers are using the Internet while on an active voice call.

The national launch of the Wireless Home Phone & Internet product comes amid AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV. Tied in, AT&T said it would commit to expand its plans to build and enhance high-speed Internet access to an additional 15 million customer locations, primarily in rural areas where it does not provide broadband service now, using a mix of fiber-to-the-premises and fixed wireless connections.  AT&T said it would make those improvements within four years after it successfully sealed the deal.

AT&T, however, has not broken out the technology mix for this planned expansion. “Absent any of this information, it is impossible to say with precision what the competitive impact of AT&Ts plans will be for other broadband providers,” Craig Moffett, MoffettNathanson Research partner and senior analyst, said in a research note this week. “Product enhancements for end users in these areas should be modest,” he surmised.