Internet Service Providers Continue Austin Arms Race

After Google announced last year that Austin would be the second city to get its Google Fiber service, Time Warner Cable and AT&T said they were ready to make additional investments in their networks.

by Claudia Grisales, McClatchy News Service / October 14, 2014

As Google Fiber inches closer to launching in Austin, a variety of Internet service providers continue to slug it out for high-speed supremacy in what is becoming one of the country’s most competitive markets.

Both AT&T Inc. and Time Warner Cable say they reached milestones in upgrading their local networks and now offer much faster Internet speeds to all of their Central Texas customers.

AT&T said Monday it has transitioned all of its Austin U-verse with GigaPower customers to faster speeds, going from 300 megabits per second to 1 gigabit.

Time Warner Cable says it has also transitioned all of its customers to its faster “Maxx” program, where customers will now see speeds of up to 300 megabits per second, as well as other upgrades.

“This is a significant milestone as we move forward with the expansion of ‘TWC Maxx’ in Austin,” Ike Wells, regional vice president of operations for Time Warner Cable Texas, said in a statement.

Google began the Internet arms race in April 2013, when it announced that Austin would be the second U.S. city — after Kansas City — to get its Google Fiber 1-gigabit service. Google has since added the ultra-fast service in Provo, Utah.

While Google Fiber has said it would be available in Austin’s by year’s end, it has yet to reveal exactly which areas of the city would get the service first. Google is planning a media briefing this week where company officials promise a progress report on their Austin service.

After Google’s Austin announcement last year, Time Warner Cable and AT&T said they were ready to make additional investments in their networks. Late last year, AT&T rolled out its U-verse service with GigaPower, which then offered speeds of up to 300 megabits per second. This year, the telecom giant said it would up those speeds to 1 gigabit.

In February, San Marcos-based Grande Communications began rolling out 1-gigabit service to their Austin customers.

At 1 gigabit, the service is more than 100 times faster than today’s typical broadband Internet access and lets a user download 25 songs in 1 second, a TV show in 3 seconds and a high-definition movie in less than 36 seconds.

This summer, Time Warner launched its faster Maxx service to 40 percent of its Austin-area customers. Today, with 100 percent of customers on the new Maxx program, customers with all six of Time Warner’s Internet service plans are seeing an increase in speeds. For example, Time Warner customers who subscribe to their standard plan went from to 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps.

AT&T executives say sales of their U-verse service continues to exceed expectations.

“The response to our U-verse with AT&T GigaPower network validates exactly why we chose Austin as our first fiber broadband market, and why this expansion happened so quickly,” AT&T Texas president Dave Nichols said in a statement. “Austinites have a genuine appreciation for fast and efficient technology

©2014 Austin American-Statesman, Texas