At midnight this past Sunday, AT&T announced it would be bringing its Gigapower internet service to Kansas City, offering to match exactly the price and speed offered by Google Fiber. For $70 per month, customers can get connectivity of 1 gigabit per second, and for $120 they get a basic TV package as well. The rollout highlights how increasing competition is benefitting consumers. After the arrival of Google Fiber, the dominant player in Kansas City, Time Warner, has tripled its speeds without raising prices.
Time Warner has tripled speeds without raising prices
Kansas City isn't the only location where the Google and AT&T are going head to head. In cities across North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, and Tennessee, the two companies are already competing or have planned competing rollouts. "There's a fiber drought (in the US), and Google Fiber proved that point by coming to Kansas City," Hunter Newby, CEO of Allied Fiber, told the Kansas City Business Journal. "This isn't rocket science. Google Fiber proved a point: a gig for 70 bucks. What? Are you kidding me? I thought that was only available in Hong Kong."
And it's not just the biggest companies which are being spurred to new heights by Google Fiber. In Kansas City, Consolidated Communications, which has offerings in just five states, is now offering gigabyte service to its customers, for a nickel less than Google and AT&T. "Our customers' expectation for a faster internet connection to enable activities like home-based businesses, gaming, and video streaming continues to grow," said Michael Smith, chief marketing officer for Consolidated Communications. "The number of connected devices in the home is also growing exponentially; computers, phones, tablets, printers, game consoles, and even appliances are all competing for bandwidth."
AT&T has warned new net neutrality rules could hamper its rollout of high speed services
Back in November, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson warned that if the FCC classified broadband internet as a Title II utility, it would lead to a slowdown or freeze in the expansion of its high speed fiber. Now that the agency has called his bluff, it remains to be seen if AT&T will continue a wide rollout of these offerings.
In the meantime some local municipalities, for example Chattanooga, Tennessee, are already offering gigabit internet service to their citizens. The FCC is planning a vote on new regulations that would help towns and cities work around local laws aimed at preventing the creation of municipal broadband, a move also supported by President Obama. "Laws in 19 states — some specifically written by special interests trying to stifle new competitors — have held back broadband access and, with it, economic opportunity," said the White House.