If you have AT&T wireless service, your voice/data plan is going to cost you the same amount of money each month regardless of your home address. But AT&T’s broadband division isn’t taking this one-price-fits-all approach, and is continuing to sell broadband access that can range in price by $40/month, depending on where you live… and apparently whether Google Fiber is in the area.
Yesterday, the Death Star touted GigaPower availability in more than a half-dozen new GigaPower markets, including Chicago, Atlanta, Nashville, Orlando, Miami, and San Antonio.
We noticed that — rather than make a big splash about this news with one huge press release — AT&T broke down each market into its own statement. Why? One reason has to be that prices can vary so much from area to area.
In Atlanta and Nashville, GigaPower starts at $70/month for 1Gbps data speeds.
But in Chicago and Miami, where AT&T boasts of now offering “lower prices,” the monthly rate is $80, but for 300 Mbps data speeds.
That’s correct: $10/month more for slower access. If you want the full gigabit access available from AT&T in these markets, you’ll have to pay $110/month, more than a 50% price increase from the other areas.
The price difference can’t be attributed to AT&T’s questionable “Internet Preferences” program that offers a discount to users willing to let their online use be tracked and sold off by the company. The press releases make it clear that being part of this program is required for getting this advertised price.
The obvious link between the cities with the lower rates is that they are all currently being built out by Google Fiber, which charges, you guessed it, $70/month for gigabit broadband.
We pointed out this connection in the spring after noting that Austin, where Google had just begun to sell Fiber, was getting the $70 price while Cupertino, CA, an area that is merely under consideration by Google, was being charged the $110/month rate.
The fact that AT&T believes it can charge $40/month more just because no one else in a market is offering a comparable service only underscores the need for increased competition in high-speed broadband service. When more companies are selling comparable services, no single operator can dictate what consumers should pay.