The copper GigaWeasel lurks under AT&T's fiber umbrella

6 October 2016 by Steve Blum
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You can see the fiber from here.

AT&T is casting a new shadow on its faster-than-average tiers of service. Instead of calling 300 Mbps copper service Gigapower, it’ll now lounge under the AT&T Fiber umbrella. At least that’s how an AT&T press release reads, when you connect all the dots.

The release says

Under the AT&T Fiber umbrella brand we will use a variety of network technologies to connect more homes, apartments and business customer locations to ultra-fast and low-latency internet speeds. This new brand includes, but is not limited to, the former AT&T GigaPower network. We will announce additional network technologies and products in our AT&T Fiber umbrella brand in the near future.

When AT&T starts talking about “a variety of network technologies” under an “umbrella brand”, whatever that is, you can bet the ranch that the roads won’t be clogged with AT&T fiber trucks. Particularly if you live on a ranch.

The GigaWeasel, sorry, GigaPower brand was introduced in Austin, as AT&T scrambled to respond to Google Fiber’s imminent arrival. There probably are some places where you can get fiber-to-the-premise gigabit service in Austin and the several dozen metro areas where AT&T subsequently claimed to be offering it. Probably. But if you live or work on one of the lucky streets where GigaPower service is available, there’s an excellent chance you’d be told the best you can get is 300 Mbps via copper lines.

There’s glass in the network somewhere, so that’s apparently enough for AT&T’s flacks to claim that last mile copper comes under the fiber umbrella.

There’s no mystery about what AT&T is doing. It’s made it clear that high potential areas like dense central business districts and wealthy neighborhoods will get the loving attention of its capital investments – fiber, in other words – while merely affluent customers will get to keep their copper-based service, with or without a fiber umbrella. Rural and inner city communities don’t even have that much to look forward to: as wireless towers go up, copper lines will come down.

Fiber gets you more than copper, and copper gets you more than wireless. That’s basic physics and word games won’t change it.