Saturday, February 23, 2008

AT&T has itself to blame and not economy for slowing residential wireline revenues

Last month, AT&T's chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson told an industry conference a slowing economy is taking a toll on the telco's residential wireline broadband market segment.

That doesn't exactly square with a forecast by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), which said yesterday that the telecommunications industry should see strong growth over the next three years, driven largely by increasing demand for broadband.

Reports Grant Gross of IDG News Service:

The trade group expects the worldwide telecom market to grow to $4.6 trillion by 2011, compared to about $3.9 trillion in 2006. About $1.3 trillion of the 2011 market will come from the United States, the TIA said.

Driving these increases will be broadband, with its consumption doubling in 2006 and quadrupling again in 2007, said Arthur Gruen of Wilkofsky Gruen Associates, a consultancy that focuses on telecom and other industries. Video and entertainment applications are pushing customers to buy more broadband and telecom providers to build more capacity, he said.


Rather than the blame the economy, AT&T need only look in the closest mirror for declining residential wireline revenues. It has halted DSL buildouts, failing to meet its "Project Pronto" goal of systemwide DSL availability by last year. The telco is currently engaged in a half hearted effort to build a halfway capable system (Project Lightspeed/U-Verse) that will meet only a fraction of the burgeoning demand for integrated IP services in the residential segment.

AT&T can hardly blame the economy when it chooses to sit back and milk existing revenues and depreciation from its aging copper cable based system rather than aggressively growing its residential business.

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