AT&T Rolls U-verse Speed Upgrade Into California, Nevada

AT&T residential and business customers in California and Nevada will be the first to gain access to a new U-verse Internet speed tier that pumps out 45 Mbps downstream and up to 6 Mbps upstream.

The new tier, called U-verse High Speed Internet Power, carries an introductory price of $49.95 per month, putting it almost on par with the cost of the 6-Meg Elite tier, which costs $46 per month.

AT&T is offering the introductory price to residential customers who bundle it with U-verse TV and voice services, and agree to a two-year contract. Current, eligible U-verse Internet residential subs can upgrade and get $10 off their bill for 12 months, the company said.

Following the introductory offer period, the Power tier will be offered at $76 per month, a spokeswoman said.

Among examples, AT&T U-verse tangles with Charter in Reno, Nev.; and with Comcast in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The introductory price on the new tier undercuts AT&T U-verse’s existing tiers, while adding speed. The new tier outpaces the previous top-end U-verse tier, Max Turbo, which delivers up to 24 Mbps down for about $66 per month, according to the AT&T U-verse Web site (opens in new tab). Other U-verse Internet tiers include Max Plus (18 Mbps down, $56 per month); Max (12 Mbps down, $51 per month); Elite (6 Mbps down, $46 per month); and Pro (3 Mbps down, $41 per month).

The U-verse speed increase was expected. Last week during AT&T’s second quarter earnings call, company SVP and CFO John Stephens said the telco would unleash the 45 Mbps service “in the next few months, noting that U-verse will eventually ramp up downstream speeds to 75 Mbps and 100 Mbps “in the near future."

The most recent speed upgrade in Nevada and California come way of Project Velocity IP (VIP), a three-year capex infusion that will see AT&T expand its U-verse footprint by another 8.5 million homes, for a total penetration of 33 million homes, coupled with the deployment of the telco’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless network, which will be mostly complete by next summer. AT&T said it had expanded its wireline IP network build by a total of 1.8 million U-verse broadband customer locations, including 500,000 U-verse video customer locations, by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

AT&T has not announced when it will make the new U-verse Power tier available elsewhere, but the telco “expects to roll it out in other  U-verse markets on an ongoing basis,” the spokeswoman noted.

“This is our next step in our Project VIP investment plan, and we’re proud to bring customers faster speeds, for a great value,” said Mel Coker, chief marketing officer of AT&T Home Solutions, in a statement. “The vast majority of our customers bundle U-verse Internet and TV because it gives them a better experience, with faster speeds that fit their needs, at an affordable price. We look forward to bringing wired IP services and faster speeds to more customers in the future.”

AT&T added 641,000 U-verse Internet subs in the second quarter, extending its total to 9.1 million. The telco said last week that 59% of U-verse broadband subs take a plan that delivers 10 Mbps or more, up from 52% in the year-ago quarter.

In a separate announcement,  AT&T has included HBO and the HBO Go TV Everywhere service when customers agree to a 24-month commitment and sign up for the U-verse TV U200 package and Max Plus (18-Meg) broadband tier.

Tied into the customer acquisition promo, those who sign up for the U-verse TV U300 get HBO, Starz (and Starz Play), Encore (and Encore Play) , Showtime and The Movie Channel included in their package for up to 24 months.

AT&T said about 90% of new U-verse TV customers also signed up for U-verse high-speed Internet service in the second quarter, while 70% too three or four services from the telco. AT&T’s base of U-verse TV subs eclipsed the 5 million mark in the second quarter after adding 233,000 in the period.