AT&T considering more widespread fiber deployment: report

Set to launch a ‘gigabit’ fiber-based service in Austin, Texas this week, US telecoms giant AT&T is reportedly considering plans to extend the deployment of super-fast broadband services to other cities in the country.

According to a report from the UK’s Financial Times newspaper, Randall Stephenson, the operator’s chief executive, told attendees at an investor conference in New York that he saw “lots of other opportunities around the country … for Austin-type projects”.

“Project Lightbeam will launch this week in Austin,” said Stephenson, as quoted by the Financial Times. “The economics of fiber deployment are really starting to look good in communities like Austin.”

AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) has been spurred to invest in services that can operate at much higher speeds than current fiber deployments by web giant Google (Mountain View, CA, USA), which has already launched a similar service in Kansas City and previously unveiled plans to provide 1Gbps services in Austin by mid-2014.

Google is also working on a high-speed fiber deployment in Provo, Utah, which is expected to become operational by the end of the year.

In October, AT&T promised to start selling a 300Mbps service in Austin in December, but said it would crank connection speeds up to 1Gbps by mid-2014.

Investments in high-speed fiber technology are to form part of AT&T’s Project Velocity plan, which will see the operator spend a total of $21 billion on upgrading fixed and mobile networks this year, and another $20 billion in each of 2014 and 2015.

Besides extending the reach of its fiber network, AT&T plans to complete the rollout of its 4G LTE network by mid-2014, and is aiming to move to an all-IP network by 2020, helping it to lower operating costs and improve efficiency.

Stephenson is reported by the Financial Times to have told investors that “LTE has freed up capacity and opened up new opportunities”.