AT&T (News - Alert) is building symmetrical gigabit access networks in Charlotte, N.C. and San Antonio, Texas, adding to networks already announced for Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, Nashville, Tenn., Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C.
The new fiber-to-home networks will provide services featuring symmetrical upload and download broadband speeds up to 1-Gbps.
Though retail pricing for the first network in Austin has been announced ($70 to $80 a month, with a terabyte usage cap, $10 for each additional bucket of 50 Gigabytes above that threshold, with a maximum monthly overage charge of $30), AT&T has so far not announced either specific price plans for the additional cities, or specific locations within each of the additional cities.
The growing gigabit per second availability indicates something about the U.S. Internet access market, namely that although demand for higher speeds has been increasing incrementally, the advent of Google (News - Alert) Fiber has caused an exponential change in market dynamics.
Where it formerly was the case that speeds of 100 Mbps cost at least $100 a month, while gigabit connections, where available, cost $300 a month, the new retail pricing standard is a symmetrical 1 Gbps connection for $70 or $80 a month.
Aside from Google Fiber, it is clear that U.S. consumers are starting to adopt much-faster access services.
By the end of second-quarter 2014, 55 percent of consumer FiOS (News - Alert) Internet customers subscribed to FiOS Quantum, which provides speeds ranging from 50 Mbps to 500 Mbps, up from 51 percent at the end of first-quarter 2014.
That is a huge change of end user behavior from just five years ago, and a huge change from a decade ago. In 2009, for example, single-digit buy rates were common for Internet access services operating at 50 Mbps or faster, either in the United States or European Union, though in Japan and South Korea, such speeds were commonplace.
In 2012, for example, only about five percent of Internet access connections purchased by European Union consumers operated at 30 Mbps.
That gigabit builds are happening on a commercial basis in a growing number of cities indicates just how much has changed.