Just shy of four years after Google Fiber picked Kansas City for its first foray into the FTTH world, and two and a half years since they followed through and started hooking up fiberhoods, the incumbent is responding in force. AT&T yesterday launched its GigaPower offering in parts of Kansas City and its suburbs.
As part of the move, they are going into neighborhoods and towns where Google Fiber hasn’t yet managed to reach, and planning to expand west to Shawnee KS and east to Independence MO. While they are touting ‘strong investment cases and receptive customers’, it’s pretty clear that this move is aimed more at not conceding more ground to Google just as it was in Austin. Otherwise, they’d have put their money somewhere where there isn’t any, you know, competition.
An interesting dichotomy is that AT&T is making its move in Kansas City just as the FCC is moving to extend Title II to consumer broadband. After Obama’s call for just that in November, AT&T angrily made noises about cutting back its fiber buildout plans in responses. But they not only quickly walked that back, they’ve now chosen to invest money in a competitive market just as the Title II necklace is about to be put around its neck.
Could it be that despite all the noise, the incumbents really aren’t as stressed out over Title II and net neutrality as they would like us to believe? Or is AT&T simply finally ready to rumble when it comes to FTTH? Either way, I expect this spring will see launches in their other nascent FTTH markets, with the announcements coming out one by one to keep up the momentum.
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