Among the new, growing Internet service networks is AT&T’s U-Verse FTTH, or Fiber to the Home, which is about to get a big boost as AT&T pushes the service into more than a 100 new cities. If you are on the lookout for a speedy Internet service that can easily keep up with the most strenuous streaming demands but haven’t had any luck yet, keep an eye on AT&T’s plans. What is Fiber to the Home, and can you use it for better Internet service? Read on to find out.
Fiber Optic Network
AT&T’s FTTH service is one of several fiber optic networks spreading across America, offering Internet services to residential houses and small businesses. Fiber optic cable is expensive to install, but once it is fully in place it can offer extra-high Internet speeds beyond what DSL or other alternatives can offer. This occurs because fiber optic cables use a combination of carefully woven glass threads and light signals to send data at high speeds with low degradation. A number of growing services, like FTTH and Google Fiber, are beginning to offer complete fiber optic infrastructures in a variety of neighborhoods.
U-Verse FTTH: Faster Speeds with Fiber
FTTH first began in late 2013, when AT&T officially launched its U-Verse FTTH services after a few trials runs in select neighborhoods. The full launch began in Austin, TX. The primary selling point to upgrading to the fiber connection was “GigaPower” or data speeds at 1 Gbps, enough bandwidth for just about anything. The plan also offered — and continues to offer — 50 GB of cloud storage at no extra charge and, in some cases, a free Samsung Galaxy Tab. Prices currently range between $70 and $150, based on what bundle you choose.
So does “GigaPower” fulfill expectations? Not exactly, and not yet: First, those 1 Gbps levels, while an enormous leap forward, don’t technically exist yet. What AT&T actually offered was “symmetrical speeds” of up to only 300 Mbps, which came with the option to upgrade to 1 Gbps speeds, which were promised sometime during 2014. An article at Gigaom also pointed out at least one user was only getting speeds around 70 Mbps for downloads and 50 Mbps for uploads via a wired connections. While fiber lines are fast and dependable, they too can struggle with slowdowns and maintenance issues, so take stated speeds and vaunted numbers with a grain of salt.
You may have noticed that AT&T’s U-Verse FTTH looks quite a lot like Google Fiber, a similar service Google is has launched in several neighborhoods, including Kansas City, Provo, and yes, Austin. The price for Google Fiber’s Internet service and AT&T’s Single Play package is $70, and both promise 1 Gbps in speeds. There are plenty of similarities, although Google is a bit ahead of AT&T’s pace when it comes to service offerings: The company is already working at pushing ahead into major cities across the U.S., like Atlanta, Nashville, San Jose, Phoenix and Portland.
AT&T responded to this expansion by upgrading its own FTTH strategy. In April 2014, the company announced a series of potential cities that it may expand into. There was a totally of 21 metropolitan areas and 101 particular municipalities stretching across the United States (although, very few compete directly with Google Fiber), from Los Angeles to Orlando.
So Will I Get FTTH?
Wait patiently for the answer on this one, and check the list of potential markets. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that AT&T will actually enter any of these markets, only that it is considering them. In other words, if you are an AT&T customer in the right area, practice patience and hope that your city has the right infrastructure to move ahead in the certification process. Communities will need to provide permit approval, and AT&T will judge facility access and, of course, which neighborhoods it is most likely to profit from.
Or you could simply move to a different, similar service, including not only Google Fiber but also Verizon FiOS, a fiber optic network at work in areas around the nation. Without question, seeing AT&T U-Verse FTTH coming to more cities, the future is bright for Internet speeds everywhere.
Photo Credit: Mike Mozart