AT&T announces new broadband package to compete with Google service

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AT&T is planning a new faster broadband service in parts of the Kansas City metro area that will put it in competition with Google Fiber.

AT&T announced Sunday that its new fiber optic packages, called GigaPower, will be available to areas where demand is strongest in downtown Kansas City and the Kansas suburbs of Leawood, Lenexa, Olathe and Overland Park. The company plans to expand later to Independence and Shawnee, Kansas, The Kansas City Star reported ( ).

Company officials said the new service's Internet connection speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second — nearly 100 times faster than available in most U.S. homes — will match Google's current pricing of $70 a month. Google Fiber has been wiring Kansas City and many of its suburbs for its super-fast Internet service since 2011.

AT&T said customers in areas where demand is highest can begin signing up immediately, but it will be weeks or months before the service will be installed. Customers can lock in prices for three years but will be required to sign only one-year contracts.

"We're very pleased to be in the ballgame," said Mike Scott, the AT&T president for Kansas. "It's long overdue."

Time Warner Cable, the dominant seller of Internet service and TV packages in Kansas City, has not matched the speeds of fiberoptic cable, though it has increased speeds without raising rates since Google Fiber entered the market.

Scott said AT&T will calculate where demand is strongest, and the investment for installing new cables will provide a decent return before determining where the service will be offered. Google has followed a similar approach, offering service only in neighborhoods where enough potential customers signed up in advance.

AT&T already is selling its GigaPower product in Austin, Texas, where Google is also building its service.