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AT&T's Promise to Be Like Google Fiber Is Pure Lip Service


Despite AT&T's announcement that it "plans" to expand gigabit fiber to 100 cities, not one of them will see these connections anytime soon.

Although it might only be live in two cities, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Fiber has given cable customers a glimpse of what cheap gigabit Internet access could be like if cable companies weren't overwhelmingly greedy and unwilling to innovate. But because it's live in only two cities, the Comcasts (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner Cables (NYSE:TWC), and AT&Ts (NYSE:T) need only concern themselves with actually offering better service for a lower monthly fee in a very few surrounding areas. For the majority of US residents, the unshakable monopolies of these companies still reign supreme with no end in sight. (See: Google Fiber Isn't the Telco-Dropping Sucker Punch We Need It to Be.)

Cheap, reliable gigabit service won't arrive until every town sees true competition from multiple providers. But that won't stop a company such as AT&T for making boastful promises of gigabit expansion.

When? Well, there's no firm date yet.

In a recent press release, AT&T said it will expand its "ultra-fast fiber network to up to 100 candidate cities and municipalities nationwide," which would purportedly include "21 new major metropolitan areas."

But before we could congratulate it for shaking up the industry and forever changing AT&T's dour reputation, the company added this caveat: "This expanded fiber build is not expected to impact AT&T's capital investment plans for 2014." Ah, there's the AT&T we know!

The telco hints at what these elusive "plans to expand" actually mean:

AT&T will work with local leaders in these markets to discuss ways to bring the service to their communities. Similar to previously announced metro area selections in Austin and Dallas and advanced discussions in Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, communities that have suitable network facilities, and show the strongest investment cases based on anticipated demand and the most receptive policies, will influence these future selections and coverage maps within selected areas.

Calling this entire announcement a "bluff of immense proportion," Karl Bode at DSLReports deciphers the corporate-speak and suggests what AT&T's true intentions are.

"In short, if your city plays nice and gives AT&T what they want legislatively (namely, gut consumer protections requiring they keep serving DSL users they don't want so they can focus on more profitable wireless), you'll get 1-Gbps fiber to a few high-end developments and apartment buildings," Bode writes. "As an added bonus, your local politician can hold a lovely cord-cutting ceremony where he or she pretends to be encouraging the broadband networks of tomorrow (while in reality doing the exact opposite)."

As such, it's just a case of AT&T trying to appear innovative by making empty promises of grand technological progress in which it has no plan -- or motivation -- to deliver anytime soon.

But hey, it wouldn't be the first time.

But hey, it wouldn't be the first time.

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