Citing the continuing surge in household internet usage, AT&T is raising the speed limit for its fiber-optic home internet plans across much of its coverage map, the company announced Monday.
Effective immediately, more than 5 million customers across more than 70 cities — including Los Angeles, Atlanta and Dallas — can upgrade their plans to support uploads and downloads of up to 2 gigabits per second for $110 per month, or up to a blazing-fast 5Gbps for $180 per month. Previously, AT&T fiber internet plans topped out at a single gig, or 1,000 megabits per second.
Both of the new multi-gig service tiers include free rental of AT&T’s modem-router gateway device for in-home Wi-Fi, as well as subscriptions to HBO Max and AT&T ActiveArmor internet security at no additional cost. Low-income customers who qualify can also apply a $30 monthly discount from the Affordable Connectivity Program towards any of AT&T’s fiber plans, the company adds.
“As we set out to become America’s best connectivity provider, we’re doubling down on fiber in our broadband infrastructure,” said AT&T Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh. “With true multi-gig speeds, and symmetrical upload and download, AT&T Fiber will redefine how we experience the internet and drive innovation, from education, to work, to entertainment.”
Multi-gig internet speeds are a rare commodity in residential internet, and likely offer more speed than most households currently require. That makes them more of a forward-looking upgrade for busy homes with lots of connected devices and users, or for anyone keeping an eye on emerging, bandwidth-heavy use cases, including virtual and augmented reality applications.
According to the most recent data from the Federal Communications Commission, as of December 2020, AT&T’s fiber, DSL and fixed wireless home internet plans were available to approximately 41% of the US population in 21 states, with fiber covering roughly 31% of that coverage map. Though the faster speed tiers are limited to 5.2 million customer locations — a minority of that fiber customer base — the news still represents a clear step forward for AT&T’s home internet ambitions at the start of what’s shaping up to be a competitive year in home internet.
“Going forward, the build that’s currently available to around 16 million households goes to 25 million by 2025,” said Rick Welday, executive vice president and general manager for AT&T Broadband. “All of that new build will be multi-gig capable. So, a big effort to expand on the 5.2 million that we announced today.”
Welday added that the company plans to bring the faster speed tiers to the rest of the company’s existing fiber base, as well.
“It’s not that difficult to do,” Welday said. “We have the ability to go back out and upgrade the experience for those households, so we’ll be doing that aggressively as well.”
Meanwhile, AT&T is also launching new, multi-gig speed tiers for serviceable business clients, with 2-gig service costing $225 per month and 5-gig service costing $395 per month. AT&T says that it currently provides high-speed fiber connections to more than 2.75 million business customers across the US, and adds that as many as 9.5 million business customers are located within 1,000 feet of the company’s fiber infrastructure.
With the new speed tiers, AT&T joins a short list of other internet providers offering multi-gig service in the US. Earlier this month, regional provider Ziply Fiber announced speed tiers of 2Gbps and 5Gbps across 60 cities in the Pacific Northwest for $120 and $300 per month, respectively. Last year, Comcast Xfinity began offering home internet plans with concurrent speeds of up to 3Gbps at select locations for $300 per month. Earlier, at the end of 2020, Google Fiber began offering home internet plans with upload and download speeds of 2Gbps, at a cost of $100 per month.