Friday, January 06, 2017

As usual, AT&T decades late & dollar short, betting heavily on the come

Meanwhile, in terms of its fixed line activities AT&T confirms it is now marketing a 1Gbps connection to nearly four million locations across 46 metropolitan areas nationwide, including more than 650,000 apartments and condominium units. By mid-2019 the telco plans to reach at least 12.5 million locations across 67 metro areas with its fibre service. In addition, AT&T is conducting technology trials over fixed wireless point-to-point mmWave and technologies with a view to delivering greater speeds and efficiencies within its copper and fibre networks. Finally, the telco expects to launch a new fixed wireless internet (FWI) service in mid-2017 in areas where it has accepted Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) support. The operator expects to reach more than 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 across 18 states, most of which will get internet access for the first time. By the end of 2020 AT&T plans to reach 1.1 million locations in those 18 states.
It's mind boggling to consider the boldfaced sentence above that notes premises in AT&T service territory will get their first Internet access between 2017 and 2020. Those premises will be served by a bolt on adjunct to its mobile wireless infrastructure that will be obsolete even before its deployed and highly likely bog down during peak periods as its shared bandwidth becomes saturated with heavy, multi-premise demand. Had AT&T's predecessor SBC Communications and other regional bell operating companies stuck to their early 1990s plans to replace their copper networks with fiber to customer premises, they would have likely completed that task by 2008 to 2010. They didn't. Consequently, the quality of America's telecommunications infrastructure has suffered greatly, deficient for the needs of today and tomorrow.

This item from TeleGeography (excerpted above) also outlines AT&T's residential strategy that heavily relies on its mobile wireless plant as a successor to its VDSL-based U-Verse hybrid fiber/copper service that suffers from severe bandwidth constraints due to the aging copper cable plant service customer premises. The wireless link to customer premises is apparently going to replace the twisted pair copper. It remains to be seen whether AT&T can overcome the technological challenge of being able to deliver adequate bandwidth over the wireless link to customer premises. And equally critical, the economic challenge of having to invest considerable capital in fiber to backhaul all of the necessary radios that would essentially require nearly every premise to have one, similar to step down transformers for residential electric service. 

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I would note that AT&T is only promising to pass 12 million homes, not serve that many. I belive the are counting apartment complexes that existing fiber is near, but that they are not necessarily doing the hard and expensive effort to wire the units. Recall they are doing this to satisfy the requirements of the DirecTV merger so there is a lot of window dressing.

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