AT&T Plots Zippiest Internet Speed in Google’s Backyard

AT&T Inc. is out to beat Google Inc. in a race to deliver some of the fastest Internet speeds in the country to residential users in the U.S. technology epicenter -- Silicon Valley.

AT&T got the green light from Cupertino, California, to begin work on its GigaPower fiber-optic-based home Internet service there. The hometown of Apple Inc., near the Mountain View headquarters of Google, will be the first city in California to receive AT&T’s 1-gigabit-a-second offering and is one of four in the Silicon Valley where Dallas-based AT&T is pursuing plans for the service.

Introduction of the service is several months away, AT&T said. While Google started selling its own gigabit-speed fiber connections in Kansas City two years ago and has since added Provo, Utah, and Austin, Texas, it doesn’t have a similar offering in California. With a connection of a gigabit -- or 1,000-megabits -- per second, a user can download a digital movie in less than two minutes.

AT&T is eager to show it is bringing broadband competition to Google’s home turf, especially while its proposed $48.5 billion purchase of satellite carrier DirecTV is under review by regulators to determine how the deal will affect competition.

“AT&T’s decision to launch and expand the GigaPower network goes well beyond our competitors’ fiber plans,” Eric Boyer, senior vice president of AT&T’s U-verse Internet service, wrote in an e-mail. “Wiring Cupertino is a no-brainer given our presence here and Silicon Valley being the hub for technology innovation.”

Expanding Nationally

Cupertino is already in AT&T’s territory for U-verse TV and Internet service, and it was among the 100 cities AT&T said in April it would target for GigaPower. The company already offers 1-gigabit service in Austin, Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. It has been approved to start planning service in 10 other cities beside Cupertino.

Google is also expanding nationally. In addition to the three cities already getting service, the search-engine company has targeted nine additional markets to receive its fiber service. Those locations include San Jose, California, and the surrounding area, including Mountain View, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and Palo Alto. They also include AT&T territories like Atlanta and San Antonio.

The expansion of fiber services by Google and AT&T has pushed cable carriers like Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. to introduce faster Internet service. Comcast, the local provider in Cupertino, began boosting its fastest speeds to 505 megabits a second from 305 megabits last year in some markets.

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