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AT&T Barely Launches GigaPower U-verse in Houston… Another Fiber to the Press Release Irritates Locals

Phillip Dampier April 7, 2015 AT&T, Broadband Speed, Competition, Consumer News, Data Caps, Public Policy & Gov't 8 Comments

gigapower-600x315Houston residents excited by this week’s launch of AT&T U-verse with GigaPower have been quickly disappointed after learning the service is available practically nowhere in Houston and likely won’t be for some time.

The upgrade, offering up to 1,000/1,000Mbps broadband, was launched Monday with an announcement “select residents” in Bellaire, Pasadena, and northwest Harris County, Tex. will be the first to get the service.

Bellaire, known as the “City of Homes,” is a primarily residential community of 6,000 houses surrounded by the city of Houston. AT&T’s Houston headquarters are located in Bellaire, and the company maintains good relations with the local government. Larry Evans, AT&T’s vice president and general manager for South Texas told the Houston Chronicle that is a key factor for getting GigaPower upgrades. Evans said Bellaire, Pasadena and northwest Harris County have been very cooperative in clearing red tape and letting AT&T install fiber infrastructure for GigaPower with a minimum of fuss from permitting and zoning authorities.

Bellaire is a mostly residential community surrounded by Houston.

Bellaire is a mostly residential community surrounded by Houston.

The larger city of Pasadena, with a population approaching 150,000 is another case where close cooperation with the city government made the difference. The city council contracts with AT&T to supply telecom services to the local government as well.

As in other AT&T service areas, actual availability of GigaPower is extremely limited. A search of prospective addresses in Pasadena found service available in only a few neighborhoods. In Bellaire, only a few streets now qualify for service. We were unable to find a single address in “northwest Harris County” that qualified for U-verse with GigaPower, but AT&T claims that “surrounding communities” would also have access, without disclosing the names of any of them. That makes it extremely difficult to accurately use AT&T’s service qualification tool to verify coverage.

Jim Cale found he pre-qualified on the website for U-verse with GigaPower service, but his hopes were dashed when a representative informed him his order was canceled because, in fact, GigaPower was not actually available on his street.

“My neighborhood was wired with fiber to the home when it [was built] a few years ago,” shared “Ed From Texas.” “AT&T is the provider and that was one of its advertised features. Who do I need to harass at AT&T to get Gigapower turned on for us?”

Gene R. is in a similar predicament:

“I can’t even get U-Verse and I am two blocks from loop 610,” he said. “AT&T says they don’t know when it will be available. I suspect…never.”

Richard dumped AT&T in the past for not meeting the speeds U-verse advertises, but is hopeful an all-fiber network might finally bring better speeds.

pasadena“I dropped AT&T’s MaxPlus because I never got anything approaching the 18Mbps speed I was being billed for,” he wrote.

AT&T will sell several U-verse with GigaPower plans in Houston. The packages below include waivers of equipment, installation and activation fees, if you agree to allow AT&T to monitor your browsing activity:

  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps starting as low as $110 a month, or speeds at 300Mbps as low as $80 a month, with a one year price guarantee;
  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier + TV: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps and qualifying TV service starting as low as $150 a month, or speeds at 300Mbps and qualifying TV service as low as $120 a month, with a one year price guarantee;
  • U-verse High Speed Internet Premier + TV + Voice: Internet speeds up to 1Gbps with qualifying TV service and Unlimited U-verse Voice starting as low as $180 a month, or speeds at 300Mbps with qualifying TV service and Unlimited U-verse Voice as low as $150 a month, with a two-year price guarantee.

These offers all include a provision in the service agreement allowing AT&T to spy on your browsing habits ostensibly to supply “targeted advertising.” But the terms and conditions do not limit AT&T from broadening its monitoring of your usage for other purposes. If you opt out, the price goes up to $109 monthly for 300Mbps service and $139 monthly for 1Gbps broadband and you will pay installation and activation fees.

AT&T says the monitoring is done purely to power its targeted ads. Some examples:

  • If you search for concert tickets, you may receive offers and ads related to restaurants near the concert venue;
  • After you browse hotels in Miami, you may be offered discounts for rental cars there;
  • If you search for a car online, you may receive an email notifying you of a local dealership’s sale;
  • If you are exploring a new home appliance at one retailer, you may be presented with similar appliance options from other retailers.

“You might receive these offers or ads online, via email or through direct mail,” says AT&T on their Internet Preferences page.

The “price guarantee” provision is actually a contract obligating you to stay with U-verse for 1-2 years or face an early termination fee of $180. AT&T also warns your Internet speeds will deteriorate “if two or more HD shows [are] viewed at same time.” Usage caps apply, as usual. GigaPower customers signed up for the fastest speeds receive 1 terabyte, or 1,000 gigabytes, of data per month. Customers will get warnings if they exceed the cap twice. The third time, and going forward after that, they’ll pay a $10 fee for each 50GB over the cap.

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AC
AC
6 years ago

Wouldn’t pushing dsl tech and calling it fiber be considered fraud? The incumbent cannot compete with their peers so they make communities sign exclusive contracts but so does verizon, centurylink, frontier, charter, comcast, time warner, cox etc. If these things were so great then why have a data cap unless they’ve oversold. Since att already say they’re going to abandon their wireline services doesn’t that mean most of these press releases be considered a moot point?

ppppp
ppppp
6 years ago
Reply to  AC

That would be Fraud in any other Country but in the USA where they’ve bought all the politicians they’ll get away with it. Those Contracts arent allowed/Illegal now thanks to the FCC. They even struck down the Bans/Contracts in Many Areas. Data Usage has nothing to do with Network Congestion. Its more to do with “profits” than anything (Every Overage is 100% profit and the service they give you has a high 95% profit margin). Throttling also serves no point than to Punish Consumers (Like Data Caps). The Internet is based on the TCP/IP protocol which will automatically manage bandwidth.… Read more »

AC
AC
6 years ago
Reply to  ppppp

I think many who are execs skipped ethics and business ethics (yes there is one and it is interesting to see decision points that some of the companies pulled that would cause the company to be shut down and almost all executives would be facing a lengthy prison term). I’ve argued the same point on caps but every time I swear it goes in one ear out the other and the rebuttal is parroting the same “cable industry said” statement that is already proven to be a falsehood. An apt analogy of the state of internet access for the U.S.… Read more »

Mashfique Khan
Mashfique Khan
6 years ago

Hi Phillip,
Do you have the names of the street in Pasadena and Bellaire where the GigaPower is actually available. I’ve searching street by street but no luck. If you don’t mind email that info to me. I’m doing a research project on GigaPower.

Best Wishes
Mashfique

Mike Richardson
Mike Richardson
5 years ago

You deleted the raw research data? That is the sorriest assed excuse I have ever seen.

Nathan
6 years ago

Well, I’m in Cypress, Texas which is NW Harris County and I can tell you that we don’t have it. My apartment complex is FTTP as are the homes behind me and the best we can get is the 45Meg service…..

Joe
Joe
5 years ago
Reply to  Nathan

I’m in Cypress in Coles Crossing, Telge /Huffmeister Rd corner and they have marked up all of our lawns for deployment of ATT fiber. We received door hangers Friday letting us know they would be working our area to install and would fix/repair any lawn damage (will have to see to believe this). The subdivision currently has ATT DSL or Entouch cable for internet, no Comcast.Probably expect to go live sometime in the spring of 2016 depending on the install and weather conditions.

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