Thursday, April 17, 2008

Verizon Wireless picks off more AT&T residential customers in Northern California

There are more indications Verizon Wireless is moving into AT&T's service area with its 3G wireless broadband service offering, snapping up fixed location broadband subscribers that AT&T has neglected to serve with wireline-based broadband Internet access.

The North Bay Business Journal reports Verizon has expanded its wireless broadband service area up the Highway 101 corridor from Santa Rosa to Cloverdale, and out to coastal Sea Ranch. That's in addition to Clearlake, Lakeport and Middletown in Lake County, and Ukiah, Willits, Laytonville, Fort Bragg and Hopland in Mendocino County, encompassing large areas long lacking high speed Internet access.

While Verizon Wireless is primarily targeting mobile customers, it's finding a market in fixed AT&T residential and small business customers who have suffered years of digital deprivation in AT&T's sprawling broadband black holes.

Verizon offers speeds of 600 Kbs to 1.4 Mbs for downloads 500 to 800 Kbs on the uplink. That's arguably not broadband class throughput even at the high end of the range (most connections are likely to come in at half the advertised maximums), but a considerably better option than AT&T's ancient dialup or sluggish, costly satellite Internet.

From a competitive standpoint, this is bad news for AT&T. By offering a quasi-broadband service for residential subscribers situated in the many broadband black holes in AT&T's wire line service area, Verizon is likely to also build brand name loyalty and steal away wireless voice subscribers who might otherwise sign up with AT&T.

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