AT&T seeks to defend Austin, Texas, market with faster Internet

Reuters

NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters) - AT&T Inc plans to startspeeding up its Internet service in Austin, Texas, in December,to defend itself against a planned ultra high-speed Internet andtelevision service to be launched by Google Inc in thesame city next year.

Texas' capital city, with a population of 840,000, has areputation as a high-tech industry hub.

After Google said in April that it would bring a service of1 gigabit-per-second to Austin users, AT&T followed with apromise to match the offer if it obtained the same regulatoryterms granted to Google by local authorities.

AT&T said on Tuesday that it would start by offering a 300megabits-per-second service in December, and that by mid-2014the speed would increase to up to 1 gigabit per second. It saidthis would allow users to download an entire high-definitionmovie in less than 2 minutes.

The AT&T service promised for December is almost seven timesfaster than AT&T's fastest existing home broadband offering.

Google had initially billed its first "Google Fiber"broadband offer, launched in Kansas City, Missouri, last year,as a test project to spur development of new Web services andtechnology.

But it has since suggested that high-speed Internet could bea viable business for the company, causing traditional broadbandrivals such as AT&T to prepare a response.

AT&T's chief executive, Randall Stephenson, told investorsat a conference on Sept. 24 that AT&T was working on the Austinproject and that he expected the company to do "multiple marketslike this over the next few years."

AT&T said it will reach "tens of thousands of customerlocations" in Austin and the surrounding areas this year withits new speeds and will expand to more neighborhoods in 2014.

Google's Fiber service, which the company says providesInternet speeds 100 times faster than today's average broadbandservice, will be available in Austin by mid-2014. Google beganoffering Fiber in Kansas City in late 2012 and will make theservice available in Provo, Utah, by the end of this year.

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