After beginning in rural George, AT&T has extended its fixed wireless broadband service to eight new states as part of a government funded plan to serve over 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and over 1.1 million by 2020. Including Georgia, where the service began in April, AT&T is now covering more than 70,000 locations in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. The company plans to add service in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin before the end of 2017.
The fixed wireless service provides at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream and includes 160 GB of data per month. Above that, AT&T charges $10 per 50 GB of additional data, with a maximum charge of $200 per month. According to a report by DSL Reports, the service costs $60 per month with a one-year contract, $70 per month without a contract and $70 per month after the one-year contract ends.
AT&T’s wireless broadband service uses their LTE network, transmitting from an antenna on a cell tower to an antenna installed at the customer’s home or business, which connects to an indoor Wi-Fi gateway. In rural and underserved areas, using cellular infrastructure is less expensive than laying new fiber or upgrading any existing copper DSL service.
AT&T’s program is funded by the Connect America Fund, an FCC initiative to provide broadband service to rural and underserved areas of the country. In December 2014, the FCC increased the data rates for companies to receive funding under the program; data rates must be at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up.