Gigabit internet service will soon be a reality in Austin, Texas. AT&T says that its "GigaPower" U-verse service will go live for "tens of thousands" of customers this December, though, despite the name, it won't launch with gigabit speeds. Instead, AT&T says its first customers will get (still speedy) 300mbps download and upload speeds until the gigabit network properly launches in mid 2014.
AT&T tried to steal some of Google's thunder earlier this year when it announced its "intent" to build out gigabit internet just hours after Google revealed its high-speed broadband service would come to Austin. Now AT&T is trying to one-up Google by getting out of the gate first at the expense of less-than-gigabit speeds. (Google Fiber won't reach its first homes until the middle of 2014.)
In any event, the competition is good for customers (especially those in Austin). It appears AT&T received the same concessions as Google to build out its fiber-to-the-home network, which has allowed the company to turn its "intent" into a plan for building out the network. Specifically, AT&T is allowed to pick and choose where it'll build out its gigabit internet service. The company is letting neighborhoods voice their interest in the service to "help influence future deployment" — just as Google has done in Kansas City and elsewhere. This does mean that less wealthy neighborhoods are unlikely to see fiber service. Pricing remains a mystery for now, but AT&T says that it'll reveal more by December. Google Fiber offers free 5mbps service to homes for seven years after paying an installation fee, $70 per month internet, and $120 per month internet and TV service.