Enlarge /. An AT&T technician working on a fiber project.
AT&T announced today that it will deliver fiber optic Internet to several million homes and businesses by the end of this year. "In 2021, AT&T plans to increase its fiber footprint by an additional 3 million customer locations in more than 90 subway areas," said AT&T. This would increase AT&T fiber deployment to approximately 18 million homes and homes Increase company.
AT&T provided a list of the 90 subway areas here. The vast majority of them already have AT&T fiber access, as shown in this AT&T fiber card.
This likely means the 3 million new locations will consist mostly of homes and businesses near AT & T's existing fiber optic installations, rather than homes and businesses in completely unserved areas. We have contacted AT&T for more details on their planned fiber deployment and will update this article as we receive more information.
The fiber optic announcement is kind of a turning point from mid-2019 when an AT&T executive said, "We will continue to invest in fiber, but we will do it based on the incremental, economic case. We are not running to it." any budget goal. "
Most of the AT&T area does not yet have fiber
While 3 million locations are a significant expansion, there are tens of millions of homes without fiber in AT & T's 21-state landline service area. There were 52.97 million households in AT & T's home Internet service space and 14.93 million of them had fiber-to-home access, the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Ars said in October 2020 when AT&T announced the discontinuation of older DSL services over copper telephone lines.
Of the 38 million homes in AT&T areas that did not have fiber in their homes at the time, 22.6 million had access to VDSL (also known as fiber to the node) and 13.9 million had the older DSL -Technology that is # 1 longer available to new customers, said the CWA. Poor research has been disproportionately excluded from AT & T's high-speed Internet upgrades, research by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance has shown.
AT&T had to bring fiber to 12.5 million locations under the terms of the DirecTV purchase by mid-2019, reaching 14 million around the same time as that deadline.
Neglect of the network
AT&T has seen its copper telephone network deteriorate from neglect over the past decade, resulting in poor quality of service and lengthy outages, according to a report commissioned by the California government. AT&T customers in low-income and non-competitive areas performed worst, the California report said.
AT&T has been quick to lay off its employees in recent years despite promises to use a corporate tax cut to create jobs. AT&T had 230,000 employees as of January 31, compared to 268,000 two years ago. The layoffs are a big reason AT&T has not properly maintained large portions of its copper network or has moved more of that network to fiber.
The proposed fiber-to-home AT-T upgrades this year will appear to target areas that have at least the semi-modern fiber-to-node network, leaving people in other parts of the AT&T area with outdated technology.
"We have the option of converting our VDSL … to fiber optics at home" in places where AT&T already has fiber optics in the neighborhood, said John Stephens, CFO of AT&T, at an investor event a few days ago (see Search) Alpha's transcript).
AT&T fiber has been popular with customers in areas where cable companies previously offered the fastest service. While both cable and fiber offer fast download speeds, cable networks still lag far behind fiber when it comes to upload speeds. "In areas where AT&T has deployed its fiber optic network, the company has a 10 percent higher market share than its competitors," AT&T said today. However, in many areas where AT&T is not exposed to the competitive threats of cable broadband, the company has been less willing to upgrade its network.
At the end of 2020, AT&T had 4.95 million fiber-to-the-premises Internet customers, 8.74 million fiber-to-the-node customers and 407,000 older DSL customers.
According to Stephens, fiber optic structures are important for both wired internet and backhaul to AT & T's wireless network. Today's announcement from AT&T was spending more time on AT & T's HBO Max and 5G mobile plans than building fiber. In a recently conducted frequency auction, AT&T submitted winning bids for nationwide access to 80 MHz "C-band" spectrum in the upper part of the 3 GHz band.
"The company plans to deliver the first 40 MHz of this spectrum by the end of 2021," AT&T said today. "AT&T expects to invest $ 6 billion to $ 8 billion to deliver the C-band spectrum, with the vast majority of spending between 2022 and 2024."
AT & T's investments were $ 15.7 billion in 2020, up from $ 19.6 billion in 2019 and over $ 21 billion per year in previous years. AT&T plans "$ 18 billion investment" in 2021.