AT&T Off Into the WildBlue Yonder

AT&T Inc. will begin offering a satellite-based broadband service later this month in partnership with high-speed-Internet provider WildBlue Communications Inc., with the service to be delivered to rural markets in 13 states where landline-delivered digital-subscriber-line service is not available.

The service -- to be branded “AT&T High Speed Internet Access, powered by WildBlue” -- will be priced at $49.95-$79.95 per month. Speed will range up to 1.5 megabits per second downstream and 256 kilobits per second upstream. Users will directly access the Yahoo! Inc. portal (, set up as end-users' home pages.

The service, and other details of AT&T's advanced-service deployments, were discussed by CEO Edward Whitacre Monday in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club.

Michigan is one of the states where the legislature is considering a bill enabling statewide franchising of new video competitors. Incumbent cable operators argued that AT&T's advanced products will not reach low-income households, so Whitacre stressed in his Detroit speech that the company will make its Project Lightspeed video service available to 5.5 million low-income households as part of AT&T's initial build in 41 target markets.

AT&T is also expanding its use of fixed-wireless technologies, Whitacre said. Deployments are planned later in Texas and Nevada, joining fixed-wireless offerings already in place in Alaska, Georgia and New Jersey.

AT&T currently provides DSL service to 7.4 million subscribers. The combination of satellite and wireless delivery methods could bring broadband passings to 11.5 million additional homes and businesses, according to AT&T.

The company now estimates that it will spend $4.6 billion on Project Lightspeed in an effort to bring its products to 19 million homes by the end of 2008.