Recently, I participated on a panel at Digiworld Summit in Montpellier, France, focused on the expansion of Internet services offering 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) – and sometimes more – across the U.S. and in some regions of Europe.
In 2013, AT&T launched its first gigabit service in Austin, Texas – called AT&T GigaPower. AT&T GigaPower has been tremendously successful. You can download up to 25 songs in 1 second or an HD movie in as fast as 36 seconds.
Since launching in Austin, we have continued expanding and connecting more customers, more businesses and more communities to ultra-fast Internet speeds. Today, more than 1 million consumers and small businesses across parts of 18 markets in the U.S. have access to our all-fiber network, and we expect to more than double this availability by the end of 2016.
When considering areas for expansion of AT&T GigaPower in the U.S., we generally look at a variety of factors, including: 1) customer and business demand for high-speed Internet services and 2) positive reception from local government coupled with smart public policies.
Delivering Internet services with these speeds requires significant investments made possible, in large part, by smart public policies. Our initial investment and expansion of AT&T GigaPower became a reality because many of these areas implemented business-friendly public policies that invite investment. Local leaders in many of these markets helped facilitate this expansion through measures such as: creating and maintaining a level playing field through competitively neutral and non-discriminatory treatment; and by streamlining processes to remove unneeded costs and delays.
Thanks to this positive reception from local governments and consumer demand for better and faster Internet services, we plan to expand AT&T GigaPower to other cities within our 21 state service area by working with local leaders who are interested in bringing ultra-fast Internet to their residents and businesses. In fact, we just announced we’re expanding AT&T GigaPower to homes, apartments and small businesses in parts of 38 additional metro areas.
AT&T GigaPower ultra-fast Internet service is or will be available in at least 56 major metro areas in the U.S. We plan to reach 14 million customer locations with our all-fiber network.
Aside from discussing our experience in building-out an all-fiber network, my panel at the Digiworld Summit focused on a fundamental question facing our tech-driven world: is there a certain technology or Internet speed that suits every region of the world?
This is obviously a very complex question and unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to Internet. This is because different regions, different countries, and different communities need and want different things from their Internet services. For example, a coffee shop in Berlin will have a much different set of Internet needs than a textile shop in India.
But, regardless of what Internet speed and services a region may need, one thing remains true across all geographies: whether you live in France, the UK, Germany, the US, India or beyond, high-speed Internet networks drive our interconnected, global economy. As such, policymakers at every level of government need to examine their regulations and policies—like many of the cities we launched AT&T GigaPower in have done—and ensure they do not create barriers to investment and market entry but rather encourage investment, innovation and high-speed Internet expansion.