Tuesday, October 09, 2007

AT&T offers fixed terrestrial wireless broadband

AT&T is now offering fixed terrestrial wireless "broadband" connections where it doesn't provide wireline-based Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service in addition to reselling WildBlue's satellite Internet service.

According to a customer service representative I spoke with today, the service offers speeds of 400-700 Kbs down and 250-300 Kbs up for $59.95 per month plus a $99 installation charge which includes a computer adapter card interface. Not quite broadband in this blogger's definition of 1.5 Mbs and higher, but certainly better than dial up. Ma Bell is offering a 30 day trial period for new customers, who can cancel if the service doesn't live up to their expectations.

This development comes as AT&T increases its fixed terrestrial broadband presence, deploying WiMAX-based offerings in Alaska and in the former BellSouth territory it acquired earlier this year, as well as spending $2.5 billion to acquire additional wireless radio spectrum, according to this AP dispatch today.

AT&T's foray into fixed terrestrial wireless isn't likely to offer Ma Bell a competitive edge over Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISPs) who are moving to fill the many broadband black holes in locales like El Dorado County, California. Wireless broadband offerings by El Dorado County WISPs Remotely Located and Sierra Advantage offer a greater range of choices -- including significantly higher connection speeds -- that equal and exceed AT&T's fixed terrestrial wireless offering based on speed and price. The only way AT&T can hope to compete with these emerging WISPs is to battle them on the ground by upgrading its wireline infrastructure to allow it to reliably offer higher speed connections for comparatively lower prices. So far, there's no indication it's willing to make the necessary investment, leaving the market wide open for the WISPs.

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