At&T announced an ambitious plan to provide broadband connectivity to over 300 million people by the end of 2014. By investing $14 billion in both wireline and wireless technology, By investing significant capital into the company's broadband network, AT&T hopes to reach over 96% of all U.S. residents.
In a press release announcing the investment plan, AT&T highlighted the following points:
- 4G LTE network expansion will expand to 300 million people by the end of 2014
- Wired IP broadband network expected to expand to 75 percent of customer locations in AT&T's 22-state wireline service area by year-end 2015
- Fiber deployment expected to reach 1 million additional business customer locations, covering 50 percent of multi-tenant office buildings in AT&T's wireline service area by year-end 2015
- 99 percent of customer locations in wireline service area expected to have high-speed IP Internet access via IP wireline and/or 4G LTE
- Investment expected to be approximately $14 billion over three years — $8 billion for wireless initiatives, $6 billion for wireline initiatives; Total capital spending expected to be approximately $22 billion for each of next three years
4G LTE Expansion. AT&T plans to expand its 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people in the United States by year-end 2014, up from its current plans to deploy 4G LTE to about 250 million people by year-end 2013. In AT&T's 22-state wireline service area, the company expects its 4G LTE network will cover 99 percent of all customer locations.
Spectrum. AT&T has acquired spectrum through more than 40 spectrum deals this year (some pending regulatory review) and has plans to buy additional wireless spectrum to support its 4G LTE network. Much of the additional spectrum came from an innovative solution in which AT&T gained FCC approval to use WCS spectrum for mobile broadband. Between what the company already owns and transactions pending regulatory approval, AT&T expects to have about 118Mhz of spectrum nationwide. The company will continue to advocate with the FCC for release of additional spectrum for the industry's long-term needs.
Densification & Small Cell Technology. As part of Project VIP, AT&T expects to deploy small cell technology, macro cells and additional distributed antenna systems to increase the density of its wireless network, which is expected to further improve network quality and increase spectrum efficiency.
U-verse. AT&T plans to expand U-verse (TV, Internet, Voice over IP) by more than one-third or about 8.5 million additional customer locations, for a total potential U-verse market of 33 million customer locations. The expansion is expected to be essentially complete by year-end 2015.
U-verse IPDSLAM. The company plans to offer U-verse IPDSLAM service (high-speed IP Internet access and VoIP) to 24 million customer locations in its wireline service area by year-end 2013.
Speed Upgrades. The Project VIP plan includes an upgrade for U-verse to speeds of up to 75Mbps and for U-verse IPDSLAM to speeds of up to 45Mbps, with a path to deliver even higher speeds in the future.
In the 25 percent of AT&T's wireline customer locations where it's currently not economically feasible to build a competitive IP wireline network, the company said it will utilize its expanding 4G LTE wireless network -- as it becomes available -- to offer voice and high-speed IP Internet services. The company's 4G LTE network will cover 99 percent of all in-region customer locations. AT&T's 4G LTE network offers speeds competitive with, if not higher than, what is available on wired broadband networks today. And in many places, AT&T's 4G LTE service will be the first high speed IP broadband service available to many customers.
Fiber to Multi-Tenant Business Buildings. AT&T plans to proactively expand its fiber network to reach an additional one million business customer locations – 50 percent of the multi-tenant business buildings in its wireline service area. AT&T expects the proactive fiber deployment to increase business revenue growth, accelerate provisioning and facilitate the installation of distributed antennas systems and small cell technology to help offload wireless network traffic.
According to AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, “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. We have the opportunity to improve AT&T's revenue growth and cost structure for years to come, and create substantial value for shareholders.
“Revenues in our key growth areas — wireless data, U-verse and strategic business services — are all growing at a strong double-digit rate. Project VIP expands our potential in these key platforms and makes them available to many more customers,” Stephenson said. “With our strong balance sheet, these capital investments are manageable. We are very confident in our ability to execute this plan. These are things we've done before – logical extensions of proven technologies and already successful businesses."
“Given our confidence in our industry and in our future, today we increased our quarterly dividend for the 29th straight year. I'm confident we can continue to deliver for our owners as we invest to position AT&T for stronger growth in the years ahead,” Stephenson said.