Tuesday, October 02, 2007

AT&T signals end of wireline copper-cable based system outside of urban areas

AT&T appears to be moving toward a wireless future outside of urban centers where the telco is upgrading its wireline plant and deploying its hybrid fiber/copper Project Lightspeed/U-Verse equipment. AT&T is currently test deploying fixed terrestrial WiMAX broadband in parts of Alaska and 22 other regions in the lower 48 states, apparently as an alternative to making upgrades to its wireline copper cable plant or replacing the copper with fiber in order to provide broadband-based services.

This week, an AT&T executive disclosed Ma Bell plans to ultimately shut down its existing voice network and replace it with a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) system in metro areas where U-Verse is being deployed.

Those not in these areas might have to wait a long time to get U-Verse VOIP service, Ralph de la Vega, AT&T's group president, regional telecommunications and entertainment, told Investor's Business Daily. Taken in combination with AT&T's move into fixed terrestrial wireless in less densely populated parts of its service area where U-Verse isn't present, it's unlikely they'll ever be offered wireline-based VOIP. All broadband-based services will likely be delivered via fixed terrestrial wireless as the aging copper cable plant and central offices built for the era of analog, plain old telephone service (POTS) are dismantled.

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