AT&T Testing Wireless Home Broadband In At Least 4 States

AT&T helped grease the wheels for its recent acquisition of DirecTV by promising to bring high-speed wireless broadband to homes in rural America. Now that the merger is official, it’s look like AT&T is beginning to make good on that promise, though a number of questions about the new service still remain.

Back in March, we were the first to report on the rough details of AT&T’s plan to use “wireless local loop” (WLL) technology to deliver Internet access into customers’ homes.

Though AT&T said that it needed the AT&T merger would help deploy its WLL offering, it does not use the satellite service to deliver Internet access to customers. Instead, WLL customers get a dedicated receiver and antenna in their homes that connect wirelessly to nearby AT&T towers.

The idea is to provide service that doesn’t require running an expensive cable/fiber line but which offers a connection that’s more reliable and consistent than a mobile hotspot.

FierceWireless reports that testing of WLL has begun in parts of at least four states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Virginia — and that users there are reporting seeing data speeds of 15-25Mbps.

That’s not blazing fast, but it’s sufficient for many consumer’s current data needs. The two things we still don’t know — price and whether there are any data caps — will probably determine whether WLL has the legs to succeed.

In order to make WLL marketable, AT&T would need to charge a heck of a lot less per gigabyte than it does for its LTE wireless data.

Most home broadband plans include data limits of at least 250GB a month. AT&T’s largest LTE data plan tops out at 50GB and costs $350. That’s $7.50 per gigabyte. The company can’t charge anywhere near that amount — or, conversely, try to limit use to only a few gigabytes per month — and hope to win over the 13 million home broadband subscribers it said it would try to reach.

[via DSL Reports]

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