AT&T Takes On Google Fiber In K.C.

Taking aim at Google Fiber and incumbent MSOs such as Time Warner Cable and Comcast, AT&T announced Monday that it has launched its fiber-fed U-verse with "GigaPower" platform to pockets of the Kansas City area.

Offering a mix of stand-alone 1-Gig broadband alongside TV and voice bundles, AT&T said it is launching GigaPower in portions of Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe, and Overland Park, Kan., and “in surrounding communities located throughout the metro area.” AT&T said it plans to expand GigaPower to Independence, Mo., and Shawnee, Kan.

Here’s how AT&T will price and package GigaPower in the Kansas City area early on: 

-A standalone 1-Gig broadband service for $70 per month along with an waiver of equipment, installation and activiation fees, and a three-year price guarantee. Customers who take the “Premier” GigaPower offer also agree to participate in AT&T Internet Preferences, the telco’s targeted Web advertising program.

-A 1-Gig/TV bundle that starts at $120 per month, that includes free HBO and access to the programmer’s TV Everywhere service, HBO GO, for 36 months.

-A triple-play package (1-Gig, TV and voice) starting at $150 per month.

Save for the GigaPower triple-play package, the others offered in the K.C. area by AT&T practically mirror Google Fiber’s there   -- $70 per month for stand-alone 1-Gig broadband, and a 1-Gig/TV package that starts at $120 per month. Google Fiber also offers a free Internet service that delivers 5 Mbps down by 1 Mbps upstream.

Time Warner Cable, meanwhile, kicked off its “TWC Maxx” upgrades in Kansas City in January, paving the way for an enhanced DVR packing six tuners and 1 terabyte of storage, and a new 300 Mbps (downstream) DOCSIS 3.0 service that replaces its former 100 Mbps offering in the market.

AT&T’s pricing and packaging for GigaPower in the Kansas City area appears to be a bit sweeter than, for example, the packages it’s starting to sell in parts of North Carolina , which offer $120 per month for the 1-Gig standalone service, a double-play (1-Gig/TV) starting at $150 per month, and a triple-play that starts at $180 per month. AT&T’s 1-Gig broadband service has historically been capped at 1 terabyte per month, after which customers are charged $10 for each additional 50 gigabytes consumed. Google Fiber currently offers an uncapped broadband service.

Update: An AT&T spokesperson confirmed that the same data usage policy will apply for the GigaPower deployment in the Kansas City area.

John Sondag, president of AT&T Missouri, said the initial launch into the Kansas City market comes after the telco had spent more than a year putting in fiber and electronics it needs to offer the service, while also determining which portions of the market had the most demand for the GigaPower service.

While AT&T isn’t being specific about which neighborhoods in the markets already identified for GigaPower will have access to the fiber-based service early on, Sondag said Monday's launch is “just the start,” as the telco will expand and roll it out to other areas in the market.

“We are going to invest where customers are demanding these services,” he said, estimating that AT&T has invested $825 million in Kansas City over the past four years. “We’re willing to make the necessary investments to get these customers, and to keep them.”

With Kansas City coming online, AT&T currently estimates that it has GigaPower available to “hundreds of thousands consumers and small businesses” in markets that also include Austin, Dallas, and Fort Worth, Texas; and Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C. AT&T has announced plans to deploy GigaPower in parts of 11 additional markets – Atlanta; Charlotte and Greensboro, N.C.; Chicago; Cupertino, Calif.; Houston; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami; Nashville, Tenn.; St. Louis and San Antonio.

Overall, AT&T is weighing GigaPower rollouts in up to 100 cities across 25 markets, and has also pledged to expand its fiber-based platform to an additional 2 million customer locations as part of its proposed acquisition of DirecTV.