AT&T Promises 15Mbps Wireless Broadband To Rural Customers After DirecTV Merger

ATT-logoAT&T has dangled a big carrot out there in its attempt to lead regulators to sign off on the company’s merger with DirecTV. If the deal happens, AT&T says it could bring 15Mbps wireless data service (bundled with satellite TV of course) to rural America in 2015.

(NOTE: The original version of this story quoted AT&T as saying it would deliver 50Mbps. A rep for AT&T confirms to Consumerist that there is no set number yet, but that the figure mentioned at today’s conference was 15Mbps, not 50.)

Variety reports that the Ralph de la Vega, head of the Death Star’s wireless division, made this proclamation earlier today at a Goldman Sachs conference early Friday morning.

He told attendees that AT&T has technology “ready to go” deliver the high-speed wireless broadband over a dedicated section of spectrum. The idea would be to use satellite dishes attached to DirecTV customers’ homes to bring both video and data to the end-user.

The question is: How much would a service like this cost? Additionally, what sort of monthly caps would be put on the use?

Most wireless data plans are capped at 5GB/month, which is barely enough to watch a couple of HD TV shows on Netflix. Satellite broadband has generally offered more generous data caps, but still nothing compared to the soft 250-300GB/month caps that many terrestrial broadband providers have in place.

It doesn’t really help rural America if a wireless broadband service is beyond what most people can afford, or imposes limits that make all those megabits per second pointless. Until we get more details on AT&T’s plan, we’ll have to reserve judgement.

AT&T also wants to use the combined powers of the two companies to increase the availability of DirecTV to places like the automobile market, beaming its pay-TV service over 4G LTE onto screens in vehicles to placate your kids and give you the few moments’ rest you deserve.

None of this will be able to happen until after the pending DirecTV deal is completed, and that isn’t likely to be done until spring 2015.

In addition to waiting for the FCC and the Justice Dept. to review the merger, DirecTV needs to renew its exclusivity deal with the NFL for the Sunday Ticket football package that delivers all out-of-market Sunday afternoon NFL games to customers who pay a hefty annual fee. This deal, which none of the other pay-TV carriers can currently offer, is so vital to the merger that AT&T is allowed to walk away from the deal if DirecTV and the NFL are unable to come to terms that please the Sith lords at AT&T.

DirecTV CEO Mike White (again, not this guy) was on hand at the Goldman Sachs conference and said he’s confident a deal will be reached with the NFL by the end of the calendar year.

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