By Mark Hachman, PC World | August 20th, 2014
Gigabit broadband is coming to Silicon Valley, and it’s a race to see whether AT&T’s GigaPower service makes it before Google Fiber.
As Google decides whether or not to build out gigabit broadband in Silicon Valley, AT&T said Wednesday that it will jump in.
AT&T said it will bring its AT&T GigaPower network to Cupertino, Calif. So far, however, the company has yet to say when. In April, AT&T said that it would bring its GigaPower network to up to 100 “candidate municipalities,” including other Silicon Valley cities such as Campbell, Mountain View, and San Jose. It has already committed to Houston and San Antonio, Tex., Jacksonville and Miami, Fla., Nashville, Tenn., Overland Park, Kan., and four cities in North Carolina: Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh-Durham, and Winston-Salem.
AT&T’s plans will put a bit of pressure on Google, which announced a contest to bring its own gigabit Google Fiber to the Bay Area earlier this year. In addition to its hometown of Mountain View, Google has said that San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto are in the running.
Broadband providers are slowly building out gigabit networks in major metropolitan areas around the country, providing a challenge to what, historically, has been a high-speed broadband market served mainly by Verizon’s FiOS technology on the East Coast. CenturyLink has announced plans for gigabit networks for businesses and consumers, and Cox Communications said in May that it planned gigabit deployments in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Omaha. Comcast has also quietly begun deploying high-speed fiber connections to the home, although it has never announced a gigabit plan. (Home users can buy an 505-Mbit/s “Extreme 505″ plan” for a whopping $400 per month, however.)
An independent ISP, Sonic.net, began deploying gigabit service to the North Bay town of Sebastopol, Calif., several years ago, and has quietly expanded its DSL service to other North Bay cities. It recently announced a gigabit buildout in the distant East Bay town of Brentwood, where customers will pay $40 per month for a bundle that includes gigabit broadband and voice.
Other ISPs, like WebPass, use microwave backhauls to bounce signals among the various skyscrapers of San Francisco. WebPass only delivers synchronous services of up to 200 Mbits/s, but for $55 per month–much less than what incumbent providers offer.