Charlotte is fortunate to have several ISPs launching ultra-high speed consumer Internet service. AT&T is the first of the major carriers in our area to provide Gigabit speed to residential users, announcing GigaPower live in Charlotte on June 15, 2015 (read announcement).
We were informed by a senior AT&T official that “live” means ~20% of houses are eligible. This percentage goes up over time as AT&T continues to invest in equipment to upgrade the network. Charlotteans can check GigaPower availability here. We heard from many of our readers that they were not eligible right now, and they will have to check back periodically.
((* Note: In order to achieve gigabit internet speeds you need to have a computer, modem, and AC wi-fi router that support the speed. We recently purchased a gigabit wif-fi router for less than $100 (TP-LINK Archer C7 AC1750 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router) and have been pleased with the results.))
A member of the Charlotte Hearts Gigabit community was eligible, and immediately signed up for AT&T GigaPower service. They provided this summary of their experience:
- Signing up was a bit of an ordeal as the online portal wasn’t accepting our order. Through a series of emails and phone calls we were able to confirm availability and complete the order. If we hadn’t really wanted Gigabit, we may have given up.
- The installation process was bleeding edge. There were 4 different trips made to the house to get it installed and working. It was very helpful to be patient and persistent. There were some initial issues with the service - internet going down periodically and TV cut off (during the best part of the British Open- most annoying) but the Internet speed is great! And, their customer service was very good. Everyone who we dealt with AT&T was very pleasant and seemed to be doing their best to make things work.
- You will be getting a new line and a new box on the outside of the house. The new line will be on top of the ground and then buried. Be careful of it while it is on top of the ground (like it is made of glass) and understand that someone will come back and put it under the ground.
- The new box, unlike the old ones, will need power. That will require another box put inside with access to a grounded power outlet. If you don’t want to see this, a basement or closet is best but it will need to be as close as possible to the box on the outside and have an outlet, so plan for that.
- The new wireless modem is about the same size as the old one and can go in pretty much the same place. Apparently, it is best to run Cat-5 to this but they can also use the old co-ax.
- The tech can set up your network with the same name and password as the old one so you don’t have to change for all your devices.
- The DVR will have to be replaced. YOU WILL LOSE ALL YOUR RECORDED STUFF, so watch the good stuff. The recording preferences for series and such will carry over.
- Most wireless networks are going to be slower than the potential for gigabit and older computers may not be able to take full advantage. If you can, use an Ethernet connection for fastest speeds. Also some devices besides older ones are simply slower (iPhones, iPads, etc.). You may be able to upgrade your wireless equipment for faster speeds but in doing so may have problems with older stuff, using slower wireless standards connecting.
- Also, if you experience latency, it can often be the websites themselves, as many are not set up to deliver content with gigabit speed.
- You will get emails saying you have to return the old stuff when likely the tech took it with them. You may want to document this in some way.
- A very pleasant surprise – we have an older Mac that had always seemed slow and at end-of-life. Now that we turned up GigaPower, the Mac is super-fast.
In summary it appears AT&T is going through a few growing pains with the GigaPower service. It took patience to get the service ordered and activated, but the Internet speed is noticeably faster and the support and personal involvement of local AT&T management was terrific. The TV image quality is enhanced as well.
The $70/month pricing for GigaPower service seems like an easy upgrade decision for current U-verse customers. When launched, you had to accept the AT&T 'Internet Preferences' (Click here for the details on AT&T GigaPower Internet Preferences.) If you did not accept these terms the price was $29 more per month. In September 2016 AT&T discontinued this controversial policy and just used one price point.
AT&T says Gigabit sales nationally have 'Exceeded Expectations'.
Have you signed up for AT&T GigaPower service? Email a description of your experience to firstname.lastname@example.org.