WatchTV is the latest live TV streaming service to consider, but you might not have to pay for it. AT&T is bundling the service with two of its new plans.
When AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson announced plans to pause the company’s fiber network rollout earlier this month, we weren’t really sure what to think. Neither was the FCC, which quickly published a letter asking for clarification. Now, AT&T has responded, backtracking on the initial threat.
Stephenson’s original statement was tied to the FCC’s upcoming ruling on net neutrality. ”We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” he said at the time, referring to a planned expansion announced back in April.
In its official response this week, AT&T claimed that plans to bring its high-speed GigaPower network to at least 25 major metropolitan areas are still on track, though any expansion beyond that is up for debate. “While we have reiterated that we will stand by the commitments described above, this uncertainty makes it prudent to pause consideration of any further investments,” wrote AT&T Senior VP Robert Quinn.
The FCC’s ruling could have a huge effect on AT&T’s fiber network plans, essentially deciding whether the carrier can charge some companies extra for access to “fast lane” internet. Hopefully this means AT&T’s promise of faster internet won’t hinge on the future of net neutrality, though until the FCC makes a final decision, all bets are off.
President Obama’s decision to come out in support of net neutrality this week sent shock waves through the industry, and one major carrier is responding with an unexpected new tactic. Reuters reports that AT&T is temporarily pausing the expansion of its GiGaPower fiber network until the FCC makes an official ruling on net neutrality.
“We can’t go out and invest that kind of money deploying fiber to 100 cities not knowing under what rules those investments will be governed,” AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Wednesday at a Wells Fargo conference. “We think it is prudent to just pause and make sure we have line of sight and understanding as to what those rules would look like.”
Up until now, AT&T has been building out its fiber network as quickly as possible in an effort to compete with Google Fiber. The carrier actually beat Google to launch first in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and announced plans to cover up to 100 cities and municipalities across the country back in April. Now those plans are on hold.
If companies like AT&T, Verizon and Comcast get the “fast lane” system they want, a fiber-based network could be the perfect vehicle for premium Internet services. But if the FCC rules to protect the open Internet, AT&T may not have a reason to invest its resources in GiGaPower moving forward.