Last week, AT&T (T) announced it is adding five new metros this month to their all-fiber gigabit internet footprint, bringing the total number of markets covered in the USA to 51. This is a big deal, as it shows what tomorrow will look like. So, let’s take a closer look at this new gigabit speed internet race.
It takes time and investment to build out ultra-fast, gigabit speed networks. With that said, only a few are serious. Most companies are just dabbling in this area. Very few are actual leaders.
AT&T GigaPower is Leader in Space
Today, AT&T GigaPower is the leader. They are in more markets and are expanding more rapidly than any other provider. They are currently in 51 markets and are the fastest growing gigabit speed Internet service in the United States.
Many people think Google (GOOG) is in a leadership position, but that is not the case. Google Fiber got lots of publicity when it launched, and still does. That may be what is causing this mistake in the marketplace. In fact, in recent months, Google Fiber has been slowing down and moving workers to different areas of the company.
Google Fiber, Comcast Xfinity and Others Are Next
Comcast (CMCSA) may surprise many as they enter this space. They are in a handful of markets currently and it all depends how quickly they grow.
Companies like CenturyLink (CTL), Cox, Charter Spectrum (CHTR), C Spire in Mississippi and others are dabbling in this growing area, but are not really making much of a difference in the marketplace, yet anyway.
Investors and users may not understand what is occurring, but if we pull the camera back and take a longer-term, historical perspective, we can see the world of communications going through an enormous transformation. Gigabit speed internet is just one of the slices of that pie.
Longer-Term, Historical Outlook on Gigabit Internet
Today, only a handful of markets have access to gigabit speed internet. Even fewer have multiple providers of the service. However, this is a rapidly growing service and the goal is for it to eventually be everywhere with users having multiple choices in every market across the country. When this eventually happens, prices will be lower, choices will be higher and service will continually be better and faster.
Wire line gigabit internet service is starting to be joined by wireless. Going forward, as wireless expands to 5G speeds, it will enable providers to offer gigabit services in new ways. That will expand the number of competitors in each marketplace. This will give users the ability to choose what they want to buy.
Wire line and Wireless Gigabit Internet Service is Growing
Like every other new product, prices start out high then come down over time. I expect the same thing to happen with gigabit speed Internet. The first wave, which we are still in, is all about availability. Then as prices of gear come down, and competition heats up, we will likely see prices come down as the product continues to roll out.
However, that won’t be for a few more years. For now, we are in the early stages of a radical increase in speeds similar to when we moved from dial-up to the first high-speed services ten or fifteen years ago.
Wonderful Dial-Up Days of Yesterday
You remember those wonderful dial up days, right? We would have to tie up our phone line for hours. Our computer would dial up and connect with a symphony of technology noises. There was even a movie so we can remember this time. Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail”, which captured the state of early online life.
We are continuing to mature and advance. Seeing the amazing new technology that is advancing and transforming our world once again, you should realize we are still in the very early stages of a long-term revolution.
Gigabit Speed Internet, AI, IoT, VR and More is Investment in Tomorrow
Remember when the first Ford (F) Model T came out, it was so futuristic. Then, a decade later, when several newer versions rolled out, it made the original Model T look ancient. However, now we can look back 100 years later and everything prior was prehistoric.
Expect the same thing with the world of wireless and wire line gigabit speed Internet. Today, we are still in the very early stages. So, whether you are an investor, employee or customer, whether you are a business user or consumer, the world is always changing and speeding up.
Gigabit Internet, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Look for the leaders in this space. AI, IoT, cloud, VR and more are going to continually change our world. And they will all use this ultra-fast gigabit speed Internet.
Tomorrow will look much different than today. Just as today looks much different than yesterday. The industry, the companies, the technologies continue to change. It wasn’t that long ago that there were seven local phone companies, one long distance company, no internet, no wireless, no iPhone or Android and cable TV companies were tiny, local companies.
That’s the change we have seen over the last few decades. Just imagine the change we will see over the next few decades. That’s what we should be preparing for.
Jeff Kagan is an Equities.com columnist. Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, Industry Analyst, speaker and consultant. He follows wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, Mobile Pay, FinTech and communications technology. Email him at [email protected]. His web site is www.jeffKAGAN.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffkagan