More Chicagoans getting gigabit-speed Internet service — at a price

SHARE More Chicagoans getting gigabit-speed Internet service — at a price

A gigabit-speed Internet connection fast enough to download a high-definition movie within 36 seconds will be rolled out starting Thursday for certain AT&T customers — and they’ll have to pay more for it.

The 1-gigabit-per-second offering through AT&T’s U-verse service is the company’s first and fastest inside the Chicago city limits.

AT&T launched the service in May to parts of Elgin, Oswego, Plainfield, Skokie and Yorkville.

Paul La Schiazza, president of AT&T-Illinois, declined to identify the neighborhoods or the numbers and percentage of subscribers in Chicago who will receive the higher-speed service.

The 1-gigabit speed is 17 times faster than the average peak connection speed in Chicago, said David Belson, editor of a “State of the Internet” report issued Wednesday by Akamai Technologies, an Internet bandwidth provider.

AT&T customers will pay $120 a month for the 1-gigabit service by itself, Schiazza said.

That’s 60 percent higher than the previous top-speed price of $75 a month, according to AT&T’s figures.

Customers have been paying $109 a month to bundle AT&T’s highest-speed Internet service with its 300-channel television service. That “double play” — Internet and TV — service will jump by 37.6 percent, to $150 a month.

A three-part bundle of high-speed Internet, television and telephone service will increase by 29.5 percent, to $180 a month from today’s $139.

Nationwide, Dallas-based AT&T already has rolled out the gigabit Internet-speed service in parts of Atlanta; Boston; Charlotte; Cupertino, California; Dallas-Fort Worth; Houston; Kansas City; Nashville; and in Raleigh-Durham and Winston-Salem, N.C.

Schiazza said it will take years to install the fiber necessary to provide widespread gigabit Internet speeds.

“We will be deploying [the service] over the next several years,” he said in a telephone interview. “The strategy for AT&T in Chicago is to get more and more high-speed fiber directly to people’s homes and to small and large business customers, so we can deliver the speeds and data capabilities that consumers want.”

The increasing popularity of video is a big reason customers are demanding higher-speed access, Schiazza said.

Comcast spokesman Jack A. Segal said that Comcast will soon deploy even higher-speed service — 2 gigabit speeds.

Comcast announced in May that it was launching the 2-gigabit-per-second Internet service to 2.4 million customers across several markets, including the greater Chicago region.

On Monday, Comcast announced high-speed fiber-optic network upgrades for businesses in and around Elgin and South Elgin. The two new miles of fiber optic cable enable businesses in the area to access speeds up to 10 gigabits per second.

Comcast says it has increased Internet-access speeds 15 times in the past 13 years because it has been doubling the capacity of its network.

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