AT&T to pump billions into networks, including U-verse

AT&T (NYSE: T) plans to invest billions in its networks over the next three years, primarily expanding its 4G wireless footprint but also building out its U-verse wireline business by more than a third by adding 8.5 million additional customer locations to bring the in-region total to 33 million.

In a news release issued today, AT&T said it would spend $14 billion over the next three years to expand its wired IP broadband network to effectively cover 75 percent of its 22-state footprint. Of those locations, the carrier said it would offer U-verse IPDSLAM service (high-speed Internet access and VoIP) to 24 million locations by the end of 2013.

U-verse broadband speeds will hit 75 Mbps and U-verse IPDSLAM numbers will hit 45 Mbps "with a path to deliver even higher speeds in the future." AT&T confirmed that the 25 percent of wireline locations where it is "currently not economically feasible to build a competitive wireline network" will be fed with 4G LTE "as it becomes available." That 4G LTE network, incidentally, is expected to cover 99 percent of all in-region customer locations.

AT&T ended the third quarter with 4.3 million U-verse TV subscribers after gaining 198,000 U-verse TV and 613,000 U-verse high-speed Internet customers during the quarter.

The initiative, called Project VIP, "is a major commitment to invest in 21st Century communications infrastructure for the United States and to bring high-speed Internet connectivity--4G LTE mobile and wireline IP broadband--to millions more Americans," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in the news release.

The project is based on "strong" revenue growth and a confidence that revenues will continue to grow into the future, 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," he said.

While residential U-verse service will continue to rely on fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) plays, the carrier said it would "proactively expand its fiber network" to reach another one million business customer locations covering about "50 percent of the multi-tenant business buildings" in the AT&T wireline service area.

For more:
- AT&T issued this news release

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