I had intended to title this article on competing Google and AT&T plans to bring gigabits to Austin “Gigabit Smackdown.” But in this video, Bo Fishback of the Kauffman Foundation describes the Google venture as a “huge bet on human creativity.” And I thought that more aptly (and certainly more positively) describes these fiber-rich ventures.
To be sure, AT&T has indicated that it wants the same licensing, permitting and other incentives that Google might be enjoying. And this emerging competition also raises the specter of whether AT&T will rethink how it offers voice once that gigabit gets deployed – recall that in Google’s maiden Kansas City giga-voyage, it opted to not offer voice service, citing regulatory obstacles that would have interfered with its preferred business plan. So as providers look more toward IP-only platforms, the task of preserving public policy goals will continue to emerge and confront Federal and local regulators. Read more
I was beginning to wonder whether I would have anything to write about this week. To be truthful, I sometimes worry that I keep harping on same themes – the wonder of new technology, the need to ensure access to it everywhere, the commitment of rural providers who bring services to their communities. Fortunately, however, AT&T kick-started a focused industry inquiry into the transition from TDM to IP networks, and that has generated rigorous debate about the future of National telecom policy.
Several months ago, AT&T and NTCA each asked the FCC to examine how the growing use of IP-based networks and might warrant reconsideration of existing regulatory frameworks. Whereas AT&T’s petition sought to suspect many telecom regulations in select test markets, NTCA urged the FCC to ensure that any changes be grounded in statutory polices that include but are not limited to consumer protection and universal service. NTCA proposed that where AT&T might be suggesting a sledgehammer, the FCC instead reach for jeweler’s pick. Read more
The two dominant wireless players are keeping spectrum in the family. Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. announced that AT&T has agreed to acquire 39 lower 700 MHz B-block licenses from Verizon for $1.9 billion.
The transaction also includes the transfer of AWS licenses in five western U.S. markets from AT&T to Verizon Wireless. The 700 MHz spectrum being acquired by AT&T covers 42 million people in 18 states. Read more
AT&T recently announced plans to invest $14 billion over the next three years to expand its IP broadband networks. The undertaking—dubbed Project Velocity IP (VIP)—will ultimately bring 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless service to 99% of all AT&T customer locations, and wireline IP to 75%.
“This is a major commitment to invest in 21st century communications infrastructure for the United States and bring high-speed Internet connectivity—4G LTE mobile and wireline IP broadband—to millions more Americans,” said Randall Stevenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive order.
Of note, this announcement is the other shoe dropping on the report issued last month. The fear is that this will mean the end of network upgrades for AT&T’s copper network, upon which those customers not reached by the company’s wireline IP rollout will continue to rely. In addition, any AT&T customers utilizing wireline copper-based service for burglar and fire alarms and emergency service have reason to be concerned. Read more
AT&T reported strong growth in U-verse® subscriptions and revenues during the third quarter of 2012. Although AT&T wireline broadband connections overall decreased by 42,000 (due largely to declines in DSL subscriptions), the company reported that its average revenue per broadband subscriber was up nearly 10% over the preceding year, and that its high-speed U-verse product saw a net gain of 613,000 subscribers (to 7.1 million) in the third quarter – resulting in a 38.3% increase in total U-verse revenues.
AT&T further indicated that its U-verse video product added 198,000 subscribers during the quarter, reaching 4.3 million in service. Finally, AT&T stated that more than half of its customers now subscribe to broadband plans offering speeds of up to 12 Mbps or higher, and that 90% of new U-verse TV customers also bought high-speed Internet service in the third quarter.
The report appears to indicate that, while lower-speed broadband connections are falling off in the face of competition or technological advancement (including perhaps some customers who upgraded from DSL to U-verse rather than switching providers), there continues to be robust demand for high-speed wireline broadband Internet and video services – even when offered by a company that is one of the largest wireless service providers in the country and presumably promotes and provides mobile broadband to the same customers.